Why LLSWD is separate from the city

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By BiJay Adams
General Manager, LLSWD

Why is the Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District a separate entity from the city of Liberty Lake? The answer to this question is often misunderstood by the community. Many don’t even realize we are separate entities. It’s a great question, and I always appreciate the opportunity to share how history, focus and funding all contributed to the formation – and continued success – of the district as a standalone entity.

History

Like many great beginnings, the Liberty Lake Sewer District was formed in 1973 to solve a problem.  After years of intense use, the water quality of Liberty Lake was deteriorating and regularly plagued with toxic algae blooms from septic tank effluent. In response, the community petitioned and voted to form a sewer district as a Special Purpose District in the state of Washington. In 1977, the district requested that the legislature amend the law to allow Special Purpose Districts to spend funds to protect lakes. The legislature gave districts the protection authority in Section 56.08.013 RCW (recodified as RCW 57.08.005). Water service was added to the district in 1978. The service boundaries of the district include the neighborhoods south of Sprague Avenue that were not included when the city incorporated in 2001. Of course, this unincorporated area includes the lake itself, and lake management remains a central cog of the LLSWD mission these 46 years later.

Lake management remains a central cog of the LLSWD mission these 46 years later.

BiJay Adams, LLSWD General Manager

Focus

The LLSWD is a special purpose district, an independent, limited-purpose form of government provided for in Washington state law (RCW 57). There are 182 sewer and water districts throughout the state of Washington, operating in 34 of 39 counties. These provide water and sewer services to one quarter of the state’s population. This is our sole focus: “Serving people and the environment” by providing safe and reliable water and sewer service and effectively treated wastewater, while preserving and protecting the lake, aquifer and Spokane River.

Funding

Everything we do is funded directly by those using the services. We are publicly owned and operate the water and sewer services as separate enterprises, allowing us to directly link every cost to the benefit it serves. Special

purpose districts like LLSWD do not have taxing authority, and we do not assess utility taxes on our services. Combine that with staff and leadership committed to safe, reliable, and transparent services, and our books truly tell the tale of an accountable and efficient district. 

NOTE: A version of this article first appeared in the 2019 Liberty Lake Yearbook.


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