Quilcene Community Wastewater Feasibility Study

The Port of Port Townsend is leading a wastewater system feasibility study for the Quilcene Rural Village Center (RVC). Funding for this effort comes from the Jefferson County Public Improvement Fund (PIF).  The Port of Port Townsend has hired Tetra Tech, Inc., and associated partners to:

  • assess community interest in a community septic system
  • identify the support and concerns for such a system
  • identify the elements that define a community septic system (likely a large on-site septic system, drainfield, and sewage collection system) to a community such as Quilcene
  • provide an estimate of what the costs might be
  • consider how such a system could be paid for and what individual establishments and structures tie into a system might have to pay


The project team has interviewed 24 Quilcene residents, property owners, and business owners in-person and by phone in June-August 2016 regarding their thoughts and opinions about the development of a community septic system for the management of wastewater within the Quilcene Rural Village Center (RVC). It is important to recognize that this interview process is only a preliminary indication of the diverse perspectives on this topic.


  • Economic development: Some people would like to see new businesses in Quilcene, such as a bakery or retirement home, and would like to expand current businesses and create new jobs. However, a number of people feel that Quilcene does not need more businesses, and expressed skepticism over the number and type of jobs that would result, and whether these jobs would be significant in terms of living wage positions. People also would like Quilcene to retain its affordability.
  • Costs of an individual septic system vs. a community septic system: Among interviewees who do live, work or own property in the RVC, we heard that the cost of a new individual septic system that would meet their needs on their own property ranges from $15,000-$50,000 including design. The team heard that people would likely tie their properties into a community system if their personal costs were below the cost of their own installation.
  • Affordability of a system: The team heard that many residents/businesses of the RVC would likely need grants or low-income support for the installation of a new system, decommissioning of their old system and ongoing costs of a new system.
  • Water quality is important: Coast Seafoods is the only large employer in Quilcene, and they have a strong interest in clean water for aquaculture. Many people also fish in the river and want to see the fish population stay healthy. All of these require good water quality.

Next steps

August 2016- March 2017 The team will continue to conduct ongoing public outreach, including public meetings with engineering team.


The team plans to hold two meetings, which will likely include a small invited coffee chat in Fall 2016 and a larger public meeting in early 2017. The timing has not yet been determined, and depends on the progress of the finance and design alternatives.

August 2016-October 2016 Dave Jensen, of Jensen Engineering, Inc., will be in Quilcene assessing prospective drainfield sites.


The team will conduct alternatives development and screening for discharge, the collection system, and treatment alternatives.

October 2016-November 2016 The team will refine the recommended alternative, developing a site plan and a cost estimate.
December 2016-January 2017 The team will research funding options and financial impacts.
January 2017-March 2017 The team will write the final report.

Background Information

Jefferson County through its Comprehensive Planning efforts designated in the Quilcene area a Rural Village Center (RVC).


An RVC is a small, unincorporated commercial and residential community center that provides rural community services and serves as a focal point for the local population (Jefferson County Code).and other facilities that can provide basic services for rural residents.  A RVC often includes a community water system, and often can include a community wastewater system for the RVC.

At this time, most of Quilcene handles its wastewater through individual septic – leach field systems.  These types of systems require properties to reserve land area for replacement leach field areas which limits possible property development opportunities, especially within the RVC.  Some of the property owners within the RVC have expressed interest in exploring the possibility of installing a small community wastewater system within the RVC which might allow them to better meet community rural services needs.

These property owners requested that the local governmental entities consider the implementation of a community wastewater system feasibility study to better understand the community’s interest in such a system, what would be needed for a system, and what costs might be accrued and how could those costs be met.  The Port of Port Townsend stepped up to manage the study using funding provided by Jefferson County.  This study is just starting in June 2016.

How can I stay informed?

This webpage offers the most up-to-date information on the feasibility study. Additional materials and project information will be posted on the site as the project develops. Subscribe to the Port’s website to receive posts via email.

For project information, please contact:

Eric Toews
Director of Planning, Properties and Environmental

Rachel Aronson
Project Associate

Project Documents


Community Septic Graphic 1

Community Septic Graphic 2

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