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Case Study: Starbuck, WA

Starbuck is a small community located in eastern Washington and was served by old, outdated and failing onsite septic systems on relatively small lots. The community is located adjacent to the Tucannon River, an important natural resource, and potential contamination of the local groundwater table from failing septic systems was a threat. Sasha Earl, P.E. oversaw this entire self-help project and performed the site assessment and design of the treatment system. While preliminary estimates for design and construction were estimated to exceed $2.5 million, Mr. Earl’s planning and design helped cut costs for the construction phase of the project to less than $900,000. The constructed wastewater system in Starbuck serves approximately 96 residences with an ultimate design flow rate of 20,000 gpd. Wastewater collection occurs via a small diameter gravity system, and treatment occurs through the use of a recirculating geotextile filter with an upflow gravel component. The treated effluent is disposed of through a drip irrigation system adjacent to the treatment plant.


“Starbuck: Washington State’s Biggest Self-Help Wastewater Project,” Small Flows Quarterly, Spring 2000.