Chapter 1 - Executive Summary

A photo of City Hall in Downtown Olympia

1.1 Overall Vision

The Wastewater Utility’s mission is to collect and convey wastewater to treatment facilities in a manner that protects the health of both the public and our environment. We do this by: (1) maintaining and replacing our existing utility infrastructure, and (2) planning for expansion into areas within the City and its Urban Growth Area (UGA) that are currently undeveloped or served by onsite sewage systems.

Under the direction of the 2007 Wastewater Management Plan, Utility staff is successfully implementing a comprehensive and effective wastewater program. This Plan provides refinements rather than major changes to the 2007 Plan.

The guiding vision for how we address these two aspects of Wastewater Management is in the Utilities Goals in the City’s Comprehensive Plan. For example, Goal GU2 in the 2013 draft update to the Utilities chapter reflects the City’s vision for a sustainable future for our community:

Reliable service is provided at the lowest reasonable cost, consistent with the City’s aims of environmental stewardship, social equity, economic development and the protection of public health.

With this Wastewater Management Plan, our intention is to identify goals and objectives and develop specific strategies to address them. The Plan will serve as our guide to implementation over the next 20+ years. We are following an overall strategy of watershed-based management, as a framework for integrating the management of all the water resources and related infrastructure in our community.

The Wastewater Utility provides a level of service consistent with City and State expectations for protecting public and environmental health as well as ensuring that infrastructure operation, maintenance, and upgrades are proactively completed. Under this Plan, the expected level of service will be maintained.

The Utility is responsible for conveying wastewater flows to the LOTT Clean Water Alliance treatment facilities. While well-coordinated with Utility management and this Plan, the LOTT Alliance is a distinct entity meeting the needs of Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County. More information on LOTT can be found on the website.

This chapter summarizes the Challenges identified in this Plan; presents the Goals, Objectives and Strategies we’ve developed to address these Challenges; and lists the capital projects we’ve prioritized for implementation in the next 20+ years. Table 1.1 defines these key planning terms; understanding them will make it easier to see how specific elements of this Plan relate to each other.


Table 1.1

Key Planning Terms


Broad, qualitative statements of what the Wastewater Utility hopes to achieve.


Specific, measurable statements of what will be done to achieve the Goals within a particular time frame.


General approaches or methods for achieving Objectives and resolving specific issues. Strategies speak to the question "How will we go about accomplishing our Objectives?


Specific infrastructure investments or operational changes within a Strategy aimed at achieving the Objectives.


Measures or considerations used to evaluate alternatives or determine success in achieving an objective, e.g., when ranking the need for lift station upgrades in a vulnerability assessment.

Definitions are adapted from EPA’s Planning for Sustainability, A Handbook for Water and Wastewater Utilities, EPA-823-R-12-001, February 2012. For other terms frequently used in this Plan, refer to Appendix C, Glossary of Terms and Acronyms.

1.2 Challenges

We face numerous challenges in providing wastewater utility service in accord with our mission and vision. The 2007 Wastewater Management Plan identified four key challenges: (1) limiting new onsite sewage systems, (2) converting existing onsite systems to the City’s sewer system, (3) prioritizing/funding sewer extensions into unsewered areas, and (4) maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Since 2007, we have taken major steps to address these challenges; however, these and others remain to be addressed in this and future Wastewater Utility plans.

Below is summary of the major challenges now facing the Wastewater Utility; they are discussed in more detail in Chapter 8:

1. Existing infrastructure - Aging and maintenance-intensive infrastructure poses risks to public health and water quality. Effective operations and maintenance is critical to the wastewater system.

2. Onsite sewage systems - Large numbers of onsite sewage systems (OSS) in urban areas threaten water quality and public health, particularly in northeast and southeast Olympia.

3. Extending sewers to new development - Planned development in Olympia and its Urban Growth Area requires planning for and financing sewer extensions cost-effectively and equitably.

4. Sea level rise - Sea level rise poses long-term risk to downtown; early adaptation may allow for continued reliability and lowest reasonable cost.

5. Use of drinking water resources - Water, particularly drinking water, is a valuable resource that should be conserved, not wasted.

6. Use of energy resources - Conserving energy can help reduce carbon emissions and operational costs.

7. LOTT/City Coordination -The City and LOTT, including the other LOTT Partners, need to coordinate activities to minimize inefficiencies and duplication.

8. Equitable and predictable rates and fees - Creating predictability for customers and developers is difficult in a complex environment.

9. Public education and involvement - Keeping customers and the community involved and informed about challenges, needs, plans and proposals can help ensure that programs and projects are responsive to customer needs and community values.

1.3 Summary of Goals, Objectives and Strategies

In this Plan we establish seven Goals for the next 20 years, with one or more Objectives and Strategies for each. In Chapter 9 we show how they respond to the Challenges listed above, and how they are oriented toward the Comprehensive Plan vision of providing "reliable service at the lowest reasonable cost, consistent with the City’s aims of environmental stewardship, social equity, economic development and the protection of public health".

The following is a summary list of our Goals, with each one’s corresponding Objective(s). Under each Objective are its respective Strategies.


Water Quality Goal - Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act standards are met.

Objective 1A Identify and eliminate at least two illicit discharges of wastewater into stormwater conveyance pipes and receiving waters each year.

Strategy Detect and eliminate illicit discharges.

Objective 1B Manage existing and potential new OSS so there is no net annual increase in the total number of OSS in Olympia’s sewer service area.

Strategy Accommodate the limited use of new OSS systems.

Objective 1C Encourage OSS conversions through the Septic to Sewer Program.

Strategy Fund limited sewer extensions for OSS conversions.

Strategy Start GFC payment plan for OSS conversions.

Strategy Provide OSS technical assistance.

Objective 1D Facilitate the orderly expansion of the public sewer system.

Strategy Support alternative sewer technologies.

Strategy Allow new STEP systems for OSS conversions and infill.

Strategy Start a green infrastructure project evaluation process.


Public Health Goal - No one is exposed to sewer overflows or excessive odors.

Objective 2A Reduce the number of sewer pipe blockages and the volume of sewer overflows annually.

Strategy Continue preventative pipe maintenance program.

Strategy Continue mapping and documentation program.

Strategy Expand FOG education and management program.

Strategy Partner with LOTT to reduce infiltration and inflow.

Strategy Separate combined sewers.

Strategy Use LOTT Mutual Aid Agreement during emergencies.

Strategy Reduce the introduction of solid wastes into sewer.

Strategy Encourage use of new maintenance technologies.

Objective 2B Reduce odors from public sewer systems to acceptable levels.

Strategy Address odor issues in a timely manner.

Objective 2C Use computer-based asset management systems in order to achieve low infrastructure life-cycle costs at a consistent level of service.

Strategy Continue the PACP pipe condition rating program.

Strategy Initiate the MACP manhole condition rating program.

Strategy Continue priority pipe repair program.

Strategy Continue lift station maintenance and repair.


Water Use Goal - Potable water use and greywater flows in the sewer collection system are minimized.

Objective 3A In partnership with the Drinking Water Utility, reduce non-irrigation residential water use.

Strategy Implement a volume-based residential rate structure.

Strategy Coordinate education efforts with the Water Utility.

Strategy Partner with Thurston County to allow and encourage greywater irrigation.


Energy Goal - The Utility is more energy efficient, and uses cleaner energy sources.

Objective 4A Reduce the Wastewater Utility’s energy use by 5% within six years of adopting this Plan.

Strategy Complete an energy audit for all lift stations.

Strategy Increase frequency of force main cleaning.

Strategy Minimize new lift stations.

Objective 4B Reduce diesel emergency generator emissions by replacing the two oldest generators in the system within six years of adopting this Plan.

Strategy Pursue funding of clean fuel retrofits for generators.


Rates and Fees Goal - Utility rates and fees are equitable and affordable, minimizing rate increases while maintaining consistent levels of service.

Objective 5A Coordinate the financial management of the three water-based utilities so that utility rate increases are evenly distributed to customers.

Strategy Coordinate regular rate studies with the City’s other water-based utilities and LOTT.

Objective 5B Manage utility rates and connection fees consistent with the City’s guiding principle of growth paying for growth.

Strategy Maintain equitable rates and GFCs.


Integrated Water Resources Goal - Water resource utilities are planning together for long-term environmental, economic and social changes.

Objective 6A Integrate Water Resource activities that share common goals, resources and/or assets.

Strategy Enhance watershed-based planning.

Strategy Plan for the anticipated impacts of sea level rise.


Information Goal - Customers and community are informed about and involved in wastewater management activities.

Objective 7A Provide adequate staff and resources to keep customers and community informed and involved.

Strategy Maintain adequate staffing for customer service.

Strategy Update and expand the Utility’s web presence.

Strategy Coordinate customer service and education with the City’s other water-based utilities and LOTT.

1.4 Summary of Capital Projects

Table 1.2 lists all of Capital Projects identified in Chapter 10 that are scheduled to be constructed in the next six years. For a complete list of projects for the 20-year planning period, see Chapter 10.

Table 1.2

Six Year List of Capital Projects

Project Name


Cost ($K)


Program 9021 - Asphalt Overlays

Asphalt Overlay

Adjust manhole rims in Street ROW



Program 9703 - Replacements and Repairs

Prioritized Repairs

Major repairs using trenchless technologies



Spot Repairs

Isolated open cut repair work



Manhole Repair and Replacement

Addressing structural deficiencies and leaks


Every 3 years

Commercial STEP Conversion on Yelm Highway

Converting existing commercial STEPS to gravity connection to the sewer on Yelm



Pipe Corrosion Abatement

Hydrogen sulfide reduction system and manhole repairs in SE neighborhood



Pipe Corrosion Abatement

Hydrogen sulfide reduction system and manhole repairs in NE neighborhood



Program 9806 - Lift Stations

Black Lake Upgrade

New lift station package



Water Street Generator

Replace existing diesel generator



28th Ave. LS Property Purchase

Purchase property for future LS in NW



Miller and Central Upgrade

Replace existing wet well and pumps



Miller and Ann Generator

Install diesel generator



Water St LS Force Mains Upgrade

Replace 18 and 30-inch force mains



Old Port 2 Upgrade

Increase capacity



Program 9808 - Sewer System Planning

Televising and Condition Rating

Miscellaneous projects(s)



Program 9809 - Sewer System Extensions

Boulevard Sewer Extension

Extension of sewer main south on Boulevard



Program 9810 - Pipe Capacity Upgrades


None anticipated in 6-year near term



Program 9813 - Onsite Sewage System Conversions

Annual Sewer Extensions

Short sewer main extensions



Neighborhood Sewer Program

Larger project to convert OSS to sewer


Every 3 years

Program 9903 - Infrastructure Pre-Design


Miscellaneous annual project(s)








Total 6-year Capital Facility Plan




Average Annual CFP