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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
August 16, 2012

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POW: Harbor Seals
Front Page Photo By JACY PIERSON
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Borough Public Works Proposing New Plan for Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems By MARY KAUFFMAN, SitNews - One of several items on the agenda for the Ketchikan Borough Assembly's meeting Monday is a work session to discuss septic tanks or onsite wastewater treatment systems.

A typical Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) in the Ketchikan Borough consists of a septic tank and a soil absorption field that allows treated effluent to infiltrate into the soil. When maintained and functioning properly, these systems are said to be effective at removing pollutants before they enter into the environment.

Borough Public Works Director Ed Schofield will present an overview to Assembly Members for discussion on options for improving onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough. According to Schofield's agenda statement, the intent of this Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Management Plan work session is to provide the Borough Assembly a forum for additional questions and answers to better articulate the workings of the Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) Management Plan.

According to information provided to the Assembly at the July 16th meeting, Schofield reported 1,231 Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems in the Borough. Of those, 50 percent had known deficiencies, as discovered during visual inspections by the Borough’s sludge pumping contractor who also reported there was no follow up on those deficiencies. Of those 90 percent of the deficiencies required minor repairs that would cost on average $600 per system and 10 percent of the deficiencies require major repairs, which would cost around $15,000 per unit.

Schofield told the Assembly on July 16th, the total estimated cost of repairs would be $3,225,600 with the entire cost covered by the homeowner over a three-year period.

The proposed changes to Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS) in the borough will affect a large number of the Borough’s residents and for that reason, Schofield states in his August 20th agenda summary that it is absolutely paramount that all aspects of this plan be clearly defined and discussed publicly and approved by the Ketchikan Borough Assembly. The information items below describe some of the required changes to Borough policies the need for changes to the Borough Code of Ordinances.

The proposed plan for the new system would require a Certificate of Health Authority or “Health Certificate” letter detailing the operational status and compliance of an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS).

This "Health Certificate " letter would be signed by a registered engineer and the Ketchikan Borough Public Works Department and would be given at the request of a property owner. It is proposed this letter will be a useful tool during land transfers and property sales to ensure a complaint system for a new owner. In the case of a failing system or one that does not meet the compliance requirements, Public Works will work with the land owner to resolve all deficiencies and return the system to compliance.


In the event the owner of a property with a non-compliant OWTS does not take action to bring the Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) into compliance with local, state and federal regulations the new plan would allow the Public Works Department to record a Certificate of Non-Compliance to be recorded against the property. This course of action is similar to a lien, however there is no monetary penalty to the Borough to cause its removal; it is only used to bring the Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) into compliance. The Certificate of Non-Compliance may be used outside of real estate transactions as a last resort in cases where an owner is unwilling to meet their maintenance responsibilities. The Certificate of Non-Compliance will be removed from a property when the owner demonstrates the system has been properly permitted and is functioning in compliance.

Another proposed change is the Notice of Onsite Wastewater System (NOW). During the Department of Environmental Conservation process, applying for an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS) and as part of final approval to operate, an owner signs a document that they agree to properly maintain their system as recommended by the manufacturer. This recommended maintenance schedule will be considered a binding document and shall be kept on file with the Ketchikan Borough Public Works Department. The notice can be updated when the owner obtains a new DEC or Borough approved septic permit or can be granted for existing owners after the Borough’s Compliance Officer completes an inspection that results in the issuance of a Certificate of Health Authority.

According to Schofield's agenda summary, currently when the Borough receives a general complaint of raw sewage seeping onto a complainant’s property from their neighbor’s lot the only action the Borough says is, “call DEC”. Under the proposed new changes the Borough will send out qualified personnel to investigate the complaint. The investigation will include photographs documenting the situation, conferring with the complainant as to the nature of the problem and taking sanitary samples as necessary for lab processing to determine the type of discharge and potential health threat. If the tests are negative and the field reports do not indicate evidence of improper sewage or gray water disposal then the complaint will be logged and closed out. However, if the test field reports are positive or warrant further investigation, the alleged violator will be notified of the problem and the Public Works Department will begin the process of working with the property owner to diagnose and correct the cause of the problem.

A cost increase on the sludge fee is also proposed. Schofield noted that the cost increase on the sludge is very significant, but it is the only way to implement a user pays approach to the compliance inspection program, and the compliance inspection is essential to resolving the ongoing problem of failed systems. The remainder of the program is designed to prevent recurrence. If the Assembly does not favor the fee increase, Public Works staff is recommending the program continue, but a viable alternate funding mechanism will be needed. - More...
Thursday - August 16, 2012

Ketchikan - Statewide: Less than 50% of Alaska's Public Schools Made Adequate Yearly Progress in the 2011-2012 School Year; Half of Ketchikan Schools Report Progress - Of 507 Alaska public schools, 236 schools – or 46.5 percent – made adequate yearly progress the last school year under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development announced today. The Department reported the percentage of schools making adequate yearly progress increased almost one percentage point from the school year 2010-2011.

Adequate yearly progress (AYP) is the cornerstone of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Under the law, schools and school districts are held accountable for showing progress in the percentage of students who score proficient on assessments in language arts and math. The national goal is that all students will be proficient in language arts and math by the end of the 2013-2014 school year.'

Of the 10 schools in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District, the Alaska Department of Education reported that half the schools met adequate yearly progress requirements. Those schools meeting requirements according to the Department of Education are:

  • Ketchikan Ketchikan Charter School (Proficient in Language Arts 88%, Proficient in Math 87%),
  • Ketchikan Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility (No information provided; however, listed by state as meeting AYP.)
  • Ketchikan Point Higgins School (Proficient in Language Arts 93%, Proficient in Math 89%)
  • Ketchikan Schoenbar Middle School (Proficient in Language Arts 84%, Proficient in Math 72%),
  • Ketchikan Tongass School of Arts & Sciences (Proficient in Language Arts 82%, Proficient in Math 73%),

Schools in Ketchikan not meeting annual yearly progress for the 2011-2012 school year are: - More...
Monday - August 13, 2012


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Update in Progress

letter Alaska Coastal Management: "Yes" on Proposition 2 By Anne Lucas - We have an important choice to make at the August 28th Primary Election.  I encourage you to support reinstating the Alaska Coastal Management Program by voting “yes” on Proposition 2.  Here’s why: - More...
Monday PM - August 13, 2012

letter Support For Ballot Measure 2 By Eric Muench - I object to the title and to much of the content of the Ketchikan Daily News August 4 Point of View article from Tom Boutin of the Juneau Chapter of the Society of American Foresters. It proclaimed foresters say no to Ballot Measure 2 . As a forester with nearly 50 years experience in Alaska I want to say that he does not speak for all foresters. The local Dixon Entrance Chapter, of which I am a member, and as far as I know, the other three Alaska chapters of the Society, have not taken a position on Ballot Measure 2. Privately I take a completely different position. - More...
Monday PM - August 13, 2012

letter RE: Foreign Interests Attack Alaskan Initiative By A. M. Johnson - O- the howls of pain by the pro-Coastal Management crowd to outside money flowing in to encourage a 'No' vote. And where pray tell did the funding that destroyed our timber industry come from? - More...
Monday PM - August 13, 2012

letter Girl Scouts on Alaska Air Flight By Susan Callender - I was on a Alaska Air flight Saturday morning from Anchorage to Ketchikan. During one of the stopovers, several young girls who had been attending Girl Scout camp boarded the plane. I am writing to applaud these girls, their counselor, and their parents who were waiting at the Ketchikan airport. - More...
Monday PM - August 13, 2012

letter RE: Not for sale By Paul Jarvi - Thank you for Patti Mackey for your response to Mr. Shoemaker's negative letter. You set the record straight on the funding for your House Seat. Ketchikan needs you as a representative. You are known throughout the State as an advocate for Ketchikan. The fact that you received contributions all over the state is a positive. People see you as the next representative for our district. - More...
Monday PM - August 13, 2012

letter RE: Rights of People with Disabilities By Kevin Gadsey - I am writing today as the Independent Living Advocate for SAIL Ketchikan to respond to Ms. Mitchell’s concerns about the possible ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities by the United States Senate. - More...
Friday - August 10, 2012

letter Response to Campaign Contributions By Patti Mackey - Over the weekend, a letter to the editor by Jim Shoemaker was published on and in the Ketchikan Daily News comparing campaign contribution reports filed by the Republican candidates for House District #33. The letter specifically calls out the campaign contributions I have received from outside of our election district. - More...
Thursday PM - August 09, 2012

letter Mountain Point Launch Facility By Richard Rold - I have launched many times at Mountain Point Launch Facility over the past years; even more so when I moved south in 1989. I do not remember the exact date Ketchikan Ports and Harbors started requiring people to pay launch permits and fees. I do however remember how much it bothered me; it was not a requirement for many years before. - More...
Thursday PM - August 09, 2012

letter Rise of Coastal Management Phoenix By A. M. Johnson - Nice to see old faces return to the Ketchikan scene. I recall Ms. Troll being a what is now commonly referred to as 'Community activist or maybe organizer' in her early days as a resident she apparently continues very successful with what she does. Good to hear comments from retired Judge Schultz, happy to know that he and his wife chose to retire here in Ketchikan. - More...
Monday PM - August 06, 2012

letter Col. Archie Van Winkle By Stephen C. McGowan - I recall getting a brand new Rambler American Sedan, fresh from Warren, Michigan for use by Col. Van Winkle. I was working as a motor-pool dispatcher with the MP's aboard Camp Pendleton, USMC. Calif. The Col. advised me that it would be arriving soon. It came in on a Friday afternoon, so I polished it up and backed it into the cage with the Col's name on it. That evening a boot Lt. came into my office to get a vehicle for his shift as Officer of the day, for the MP's. He said he wanted the brand new sedan that had just come in. I informed the Lt. that the sedan was the Col's brand new vehicle, and that I couldn't let anyone use it, other than the Col. The Lt. said he was giving me a direct order to use the car. Well, I was just a Lance-Corporal, and being a good Marine I had to follow his orders. - More...
Monday PM - August 06, 2012

letter Warning:  District 33 House Seat Not for Sale By Jim Shoemaker - Three GOP candidates – Agnes Moran, Patti Mackey, and Peggy Wilson – want to represent Ketchikan and Wrangell in the State House of Representatives. 

The latest reports filed by those three candidates with the Alaska Public Offices Commission tell a crucial tale of campaign financing and outside special interests.  Every voter in Ketchikan should take heed.  - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2012

letter Rights of Person's with Disabilities Treaty By Amanda Mitchell - The CRPD stands for The Convention of Rights of Person's with Disabilities. It is a treaty that is going to be voted on in the Senate to be ratified soon. I have done my own research and am horrified that we would even consider this. Basically, it is the same as The Convention on the Rights of a Child. However, it is giving the UN/government control over what is in the "best interests" of the disabled and disabled children. It supersedes any of our own fundamental rights like the right to self-govern, our laws and Constitution. And instead of "We the People" it gives further control over to government to do what "it" thinks is best. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2012

letter Too Many Lifeguards By Julie Yonker - I do not normally write any responses in the SitNews letters, I just read them. However, this time I want to make a comment. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2012

letter School 1957 vs. 2010 By A. M. Johnson - Too good not to submit for consumption! Here is a stark realization of how far we as a civilization have fallen!! We have deteriorated into a Nation of 'Wimps'. You read this stuff happening almost daily where once as in 1957, you grew up toughen to what life was going to present-Reality. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2012

letter Re: Voter Turnout By Joey Garcia - Regarding Ken Lewis' comments on voter turn-out, I simply disagree on his premise to somewhat disallow the PFD to non-voters. He should remember that PFD is not a right but a privilege given to Alaskans whether they answered NO in their PFD application but stayed outside Alaska for more than 180 days, an oversight for PFD to really check if the applicants are not committing fraud. - More...
Friday PM - August 03, 2012

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