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Sycamore Sewer
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The City of Issaquah held an informational open house Nov. 13, 2018 to assess interest in extending public sewer to Sycamore. 

In total, residents and property owners representing 21 of the 64 Sycamore properties without sewer access attended the open house.

The City shared a variety of information (see posters), including the history of your neighborhood; on-site septic systems and their life expectancy; options if a septic fails; and potential funding options for a public sewer system. A map of Sycamore lots is also available online.

We heard from a variety of property owners. Some have aging septic systems that need replacement, while others have already invested in new septic systems. Others own undeveloped lots. A majority of attendees were opposed to a public sewer system, and the funding option of forming a local improvement district (LID). Concerns included the cost and affordability of sewer, and the potential for new development. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this topic coming up again, and why now? 
  • The City recently received requests from some Sycamore property owners to revisit this issue. 
  • Many of the on-site septic systems are 40+ years old. The typical useful span is about 20 years.
  • The City must ensure we are protecting the environment.

If sewer is extended, will the look and feel of our neighborhood change? 
  • Possibly. Any new development would have to meet current City zoning code for SF-S (single family suburban). More details on this zoning designation are available online. Currently, Sycamore is a mix of single-family homes on small and large lots, in accordance with the SF-S zoning.

I have already spent thousands of dollars to rebuild my septic system. Now, I’m concerned I would have to pay for a sewer extension. What are my options?
  • These are valid concerns. We plan to further research funding alternatives (other than a LID) that could extend sewer, while allowing property owners with functioning septic to avoid connecting until their system fails.

Why is septic a concern for some property owners?
  • Some property owners have aging septic systems, and limited ability to either repair or replace them due to space issues. If it’s not possible to repair or replace a failing septic system, residents would be required to move out until the issue could be addressed.

Has there been any recent water quality testing in the area?
  • In October, the City sampled six locations (see details) along Issaquah Creek that are near or in Sycamore. All samples contained human and animal fecal coliforms. The City will continue to monitor water quality, as these results can vary due to multiple factors, including stormwater patterns, time of year, etc.

What decision can be made among our neighbors?
  • Funding a sewer system via a LID would be a decision among your neighbors. After hearing from some property owners about their urgent septic situations, however, the City is further researching other funding alternatives. 

Is there a conflict of interest with any City staff or the Mayor in this process?
  • No. Neither staff nor the Mayor are the decision makers. The City Council is the ultimate decision maker on whether to pursue a sewer extension.

City’s Next Steps

In 2019, the City plans to:
  • Reach out to those Sycamore property owners who are not currently on city sewer and could not attend the open house to ensure we have heard from a majority, if not everyone, about their interest in a sanitary sewer and a LID funding option. 
  • Review and discuss current code requirements related to septic system testing with the City Council and, if recommended, propose changes to the code to ensure proper testing of on-site septic systems.
  • Research funding alternatives (other than a LID) for extending sewer into areas that currently are on septic systems, while allowing property owners with functioning septic to avoid connecting until their system fails.
  • Continue environmental sampling and testing in local streams and stormwater systems.
  • Update the previous design and cost estimate for extending sewer in Sycamore.

No construction is planned for 2019 that would extend sewer in Sycamore. A specific timeframe for City Council discussions on next steps has not been determined. City staff will reach out to the neighborhood when these discussions are planned.