Recently appointed BBWSD manager intends to stay the course

20151202_093600_resizedBy Ian Ferguson

Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) has a familiar face for its new general manager.

Formerly assistant general manager, Dan Eisses was tapped for the GM position when Roger Brown retired last spring after serving as general manager for 16 years. Having worked for BBWSD for 11 years, Eisses was an easy choice for the job. With a few months of running the district under his belt, The Northern Light decided it was time to see how things have been going.

Eisses earned a civil engineering degree from the University of Washington, and worked as a city engineer for two other Washington towns before moving to Birch Bay in 2004, where he started as a district engineer. In 2010, Eisses was promoted to assistant general manager/district engineer.

Over the years, the district has regularly achieved its goal of charging the lowest rates in Whatcom County. That’s thanks in part to his efforts, although you’d never hear him say it.

“It’s a very well run organization, and I attribute that to our knowledgeable board members and our highly capable staff,” Eisses said. “I can’t give enough credit to the board of commissioners – they have put in a lot of time over the years to provide stability for the staff to do what we need to do.”

Three commissioners are on the board, and 13 employees work for the district. Currently, about 70 miles of water mains and 50 miles of wastewater pipe serve approximately 7,500 people in the Birch Bay area. Although growth has slowed some since the mid-aughts, Eisses is tasked with keeping the district in pace with the growth of the community.

In 2014, the district completed an upgrade to the headworks of the wastewater treatment plant, improving the filtration of debris, rehabilitating the sewage treatment facility and helping preserve water quality in Birch Bay. Eisses was instrumental in managing the project.

With an operating and capital budget of $6.2 million, the district was awarded the Department of Ecology outstanding wastewater treatment plant award for in 2014 for the sixth year in a row. Birch Bay is one of only two wastewater plants in Whatcom County serving 4,000 people or more that have won the award 13 or more times in the last 18 years.

The district was formed in 1968, and much of the original infrastructure is still in use. Replacing and maintaining aging equipment is an ongoing priority.

“Right now we’re working on a water line replacement project on Blaine Road that we’re hoping to finish next summer. We’re also working on improvements to the wastewater treatment facility,” Eisses said.

Eisses is also leading an effort to catalogue and preserve the history of the district.

“The district was started by leaders in the community who saw a need,” Eisses said. “We’d like to capture that story before the people who know about it leave. Who were the people who started it? What did it take? People start to forget that sort of thing.”

As for future plans, Eisses said he hopes to steer the district in the same direction it’s been heading.

“The district has served the Birch Bay community well, and I hope to continue that level of service into the future. All the employees here are very conscientious, and it’s a pleasure to work with them,” Eisses said.

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