By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Harbor Sanitary District (HSD) has rejected the port’s plan to stop sand from entering its drains after sending port commissioners a letter Sept. 12 threatening to disconnect the port’s sewage lines.

Port Board President Roy Davis submitted a plan to HSD in response to the Sept. 12 letter, but a letter from HSD Board Chair Anthony Burkett dated Oct. 2 said HSD rejected the port’s plan to close the showers and cap the floor drains in the RV park restroom.

Port officials and HSD agree beach sand enters the sewage system at the port through floor drains at the RV park restrooms. The drains are in the common area of the rooms and in the showers.

HSD Manager Kelly Beebe said the proposal was rejected because capping the drains in the restroom would allow feces to collect on the floor if the toilets overflowed or any unsanitary activity occurred, creating a health hazard.

Port commissioners voted Sept. 14 to have Harbormaster Travis Webster craft a plan for HSD including plugging the floor drains in the RV park restrooms, closing the showers and placing diversion barriers outside the doors.

Webster said closing the drains and showers would be the most efficient way to solve the problem until the board could decide on a permanent solution such as fully remodeling the restrooms or building new ones.

“The sand entering the drains is wearing down the impellers in our pumps and limiting the pipes needed to carry sewage,” Beebe said. “The solution will require a sand trap.”

The sand trap would work much like a grease trap, she added, and separate the sand into an area where port staff could access and remove it.

The port would have to close the restroom to install the trap.

Interim Port Manager Kathy Lindley Hall said the port has other bathrooms at the RV park and nearby, but they are less convenient for campers.

She did not have current estimates on costs to purchase and install a sand trap at the RV restroom.

The letter rejecting the current plan gives the port until Oct. 9 to propose a new solution to the problem but allows the port board to request an extension.

A frustrated Davis presented a list of work the port has done over the last 18 months to comply with HSD requirements including raising multiple basins, installing four new pumps, upgrading grease traps, upgrading sewer connections, closing the RV dump station, installing new water lines and other improvements.

Hall said the work cost the port roughly $75,000, and said HSD originally approved placing sand filters in the targeted drains. But HSD staff stopped port staff from installing them at the last minute, according to Hall, saying the filters would be inadequate.

Sand filters, unlike a trap, collect sand on individual drains much like a coffee-filter stops grounds from entering the pot.

“The port is doing all it can,” Davis said, “but they (HSD) are becoming impossible.”

Beebe said HSD has been working with the port to address the sand problem for a year, has asked the port to permanently cap the RV dump station and has been waiting for the port to respond to its draft of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two entities since Aug. 30.

“We are not asking the port to do things to make us happy,” she said. “We are asking them to fix things that could cause health hazards.”

Hall said HSD did not accept the MOU the port sent them and instead sent its own version to the port. Port commissioners could act on that draft in their next meeting.

Port commissioners voted Sept. 18 to develop an RV park master plan addressing the needs of employees and customers and focusing on the bathrooms, the addition of a laundromat and improvements to the sewage and electrical systems.

Port retains auditor

Port commissioners voted to hire C.J. Huntsman CPA, P.C. to audit the port’s books for 2018.

Because Huntsman will take over close to the deadline, the port will have to file an extension, Hall said. The contract calls for Huntsman to audit the books at a cost not to exceed $12,500.

She said Huntsman was the only qualified applicant who bid.

CPA Signe Grimstad of Grimstad and Associates resigned in September as the port’s auditor citing difficulties hiring adequate staff and the upcoming deadline for filing the audit with the Oregon Division of Audits.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at .