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SEA Projects and Other Recollections

SEA Projects and Other Recollections
by Jim Poirot

Projects:

The Normandy Park sewerage was one of SEA's first projects. It involved previous controversies from the residents who did not want to pay the assessments and monthly costs for a new treatment plant. They argued that their septic tanks had been very expensive to build and some had sea shells imported to enhance the effluent percolation into the soils. The sewerage treatment plant controversy included whether it should be owned and operated by the city or the Southwest Suburban Sewerage District. The drainage basin included areas outside the city and a large portion of the capacity would be for the district. After litigation and numerous public meetings, the existence of E-coli in the roadside ditches was not tolerable and a final decision was made to proceed with the design of a sewerage system. The plant would be a responsibility of the district. Holly Cornell's impressive explanations of the need, the logic and the costs at the public meetings were vital to public acceptance and his convincing expert testimony at the trials was crucial to a favorable decision to proceed.

The Normandy Park sewer design was originally done in SEA with Austen Evanson as project manager. Unfortunately the aerial photogrammetry on which the design was based (provided by a subcontractor) was woefully incorrect and the whole area had to be resurveyed before a re-design could be done. This was accomplished by two new engineers from Corvallis, Gene Suhr and Lyle Hassebroek who worked two weeks in pouring rain with a leaky Leupold level that had to ne periodically disassembled to pour out the water which collected inside the barrel. The redesign was accomplished in Corvallis with Lyle Hassebroek assigned to be the Project Engineer. Jim Poirot was the Project Manager and initially continued negotiations with the district. Lyle then moved to Normandy Park to be the Resident Engineer after the construction began. This was the first utility system for the city and Lyle worked continuously with the City Manager, John Nicholson, to bring about the first city wide sewerage system. Lyle then moved into the Seattle office to manage the Water & Waste Water Department of the rapidly expanding office.

The Richland water system study was also moved to Seattle and accomplished by Jim Poirot and a new engineer straight from England, Barry Barnes. Holly Cornell continued as the Partner in Charge, working extensively with Murray Fuller, City Manager. This study led to a new water treatment plant designed by Russ Culp in Corvallis, a pre-stressed concrete water storage tank designed by Dale King in Corvallis and a detailed analysis of the existing wells by Barry Barnes.

Work at Kennewick was from the City Engineer, Mar Winegar, and consisted of water pipelines and a new Raney Well system along the Columbia River. The Pasco work was the continuing startup of a new water treatment plant. George Fisher was the City Engineer and later joined CH2M in Seattle until his retirement.

The Port of Umatilla work continued partially from Seattle and the marina by Ken Stewart in Corvallis. This led to studies for the Port of Benton in Richland. A new dock on the Columbia was designed and the Port acquired property at Prosser, WA which was developed for industrial use. CH2M became the designers (designed in Corvallis by Wayne Phillips in coordination with the Walcott brothers in New York who were the owners of the new Seneca Corporation.) of the first grape juice plant in the western states by Seneca from New York and a sewage lagoon was designed at Prosser for the wastes.

Other initial projects from Seattle were a sewerage study for Pendleton, revisions to the Pendleton airport, a pre-stressed concrete water tank for Wenatchee and the initial studies for a sewerage treatment plant in Yakima.

In Puget Sound the early work was for a sewerage investigation at Anacortes, Water system studies at Centralia and continuous marketing for future work. After an initial study of the Port Angeles sewerage system a new treatment plant and outfall was designed and constructed with Lyle Hassebroek the Project manager with the help of Jerry Boyle and Lowell Tuttle, outfall design by Phil hall and Dave Peterson and Norm Ward designing the sewage treatment plant. A close relationship was developed with the Port Angles city manager, Don Herrman. A similar relationship developed with Ed Henken, Bellingham City Engineer and later Whatcom County Public Works Director, which led to early sewerage projects for Bellingham and in the 1970s, a "famous" ferry dock project for Whatcom County having serious problems. Recently, March 2006, I had a long visit with Ed Henken who is now retired, and he reviewed many of our projects when we worked with him. He described the ferry dock in detail and said he was proud to have had CH2M as engineers and, although we had our share of difficulties, we did all the right things and the final project was very acceptable.