Upper Skagit Indian Tribe – Wastewater treatment

The Upper Skagit Tribe upgraded its wastewater treatment in 2011 from several large septic systems to an advanced sewage filtration system. The new wastewater treatment plant serves the existing 76 homes and eight community facilities, and meets future growth plans.

Using a GAP grant and leveraged funding to plan community wastewater improvements, the tribe installed technology from Orenco Systems, using textile sheets to filter effluent in an oxygen-rich environment where naturally occurring microorganisms remove impurities. The treated effluent is returned harmlessly to the environment through rapid infiltration basins.

This method of wastewater treatment is economical and ideal for the small community of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe’s reservation on Helmick Road, which had been relying on septic drainfields for more than 20 years.

“The community has waited a lot of years for safer wastewater disposal and a treatment plant to support residential expansion,” said Lauren Rich, Environmental Planning and Community Development Program manager for the Upper Skagit Tribe.

Well-functioning wastewater treatment facilities protect public health and the natural environment. Failing septic systems can lead to groundwater contamination. Waste also can make its way to the surface if soil loses its capacity to absorb effluent.