Landlord and Commissioners Lobby for Sequim Valley Airport Water and Sewer

When a major disaster hits the peninsula, longtime owner Andy Sallee said, Sequim Valley Airport will likely become a busy — and critical — location for relief and recovery efforts.

“The most important thing is that if we had a big emergency (like a long-predicted Cascadia subduction zone earthquake), you’re going to have Blyn washouts,” Sallee said. “Basically, we would be an island.”

The prospect of events such as those that cause Sallee and other airport advocates to seek better water options, and their push for the facility to be hooked up to the District’s water and sewer Clallam County Utilities by being part of the Carlsborg Urban Growth Area has won County Commissioner Support.

In November, the three Clallam County commissioners signed letters of support to PUD executive director Doug Nass, as well as Gary Idleburg, senior planner with the Washington State Department of Commerce.

Calling the airport a “vital local facility,” the commissioners write that “it forms an essential part of our regional emergency management infrastructure and plays an important role in both fire response capability of forest and in emergency flights taking off for trauma care in Seattle that isn’t available in our rural county.

Clallam County cannot expand or provide sewer hookups to locations outside of UGA boundaries, the commissioners noted, and the county does not currently meet all UGA expansion requirements.

‘However,’ the commissioners wrote, ‘given the important role Sequim Valley Airport plays in our region, we are writing today in support of the airport owner’s request to expand the Carlsborg UGA to include airport ownership”.

The commissioners in their letters lobbied officials at the PUD for a water connection and for the Department of Commerce for connection to Carlsborg’s sewage system.

“We do not know why this facility was not included in the Carlsborg UGA boundary when it was established,” the commissioners wrote to state commerce officials on Nov. 9, “but given the both the nature of the facility and its role as critical infrastructure we support its inclusion now and would like the Department of Commerce to take action to help the county secure sewer access for the Sequim Valley Airport .

In their letter to PUD officials, the commissioners noted: “We are unsure why this facility was not included within the boundaries of Carlsborg UGA when it was originally established, but given both the nature of the facility and its role as critical infrastructure, we support its inclusion now and sincerely hope that a way forward can be forged to enable a water connection.

Sallee said in early January that the calls had yet to be answered.

“It took a bit of education from the commissioners to understand the problem,” Sallee said, but said he appreciated county leaders supporting the value of the proposal.

Access to large volumes of water would benefit emergency vehicles during a catastrophic event such as a major wildfire at the Olympics; tankers could load and deliver water from the nearby airport.

Access to water and sewage would also provide an advantage to the airport as its owners consider expansion, reducing the cost of having to develop septic systems and reducing the considerable costs of building requirements.

“Environmentally, it’s better across the board,” Sallee said. “It’s huge for us… to be successful in the long term. We are really optimistic. It would be a real game-changer for us. I just see a win-win for everyone.

Sequim Valley Airport is privately owned, but also a public-use airport that has served Clallam County for three and a half decades.

A number of government and public entities use the airport and surrounding grounds or various activities and training sessions, including the United States Border Patrol, United States Coast Guard and United States Army, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, the Civil Air Patrol, Disaster Response Team (DART) and Disaster Food Distribution Teams and Fire Districts.

In addition to local and out-of-town pilots, the airport provides service to various ambulance and air ambulance companies Medivac, Angel Flights, air cargo, air taxis, blood transport companies, flights of animal rescue, local members of the Experimental Aircraft Association, flight instruction, hot air balloon rides, events such as the Olympic Peninsula Air Affair and more.

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