The future of a new wastewater treatment plant for Lyle will depend on getting grant funding, and earning those grants will require citizen involvement.
That's the message Doug Miller of the Klickitat Public Utility District brought to residents of Lyle last week.
In a April 22 meeting with the Lyle Community Council, Miller advised the community that there is no possibility the plant -- estimated to cost between $2 million and $3 million -- can be built without grant funding.
To get the grants approved, Lyle residents need to respond to an income survey.
"We need at least an 80 percent return rate to get grant funding," Miller said.
"There are about 250-280 people in Lyle. If people there had to pay, it would be pretty expensive," said Lorraine Reynolds, the PUD's water/wastewater manager.
According to PUD officials, the current plant in Lyle is well past its useful life. The plant, owned and operated by the PUD, was built in the early 1970s.
"There is a shelf life, so to speak. We have to be careful about discharge into the Columbia River," said Roxie Hunter, grant administrator for the PUD. "The [Washington] Department of Ecology has mandated that upgrades be made to the Lyle wastewater treatment plant to meet discharge limitations."
"The plant is old and needs replacing because it cannot meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act," added Reynolds. "It's like an old car that can't meet the standards."
According to Reynolds, the surveys determine whether the community is eligible for grants.
"The income survey shows the federal granting agencies that these folks are low income and need grants and not loans," explained Reynolds.
The PUD is seeking a grant from the Community Development Block Grant program, which requires an income survey. Plans call for surveys to be mailed to all Lyle residents during the first week of May.
The survey asks whether a resident's total household income is above or below a certain level, as well as how many people live in the household.
The survey will be used to calculate eligibility and the amount of the grant that might be available. To protect confidentiality, each survey will be handled like a voter's ballot; that is, the person's name will be on the envelope but not on the survey itself. Once the source is verified, the survey results will be included without any name attached.
Responses need to be returned by May 10.
Reynolds added there is no specific deadline to get a new plant operating.
"We have to show we're working toward getting the grants," she said.