Year in Review 2017: Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management

By Holly Faulstich, program specialist

Reducing stormwater impacts, improving water quality and protecting aquatic habitat are chief concerns of the Birch Bay Watershed & Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) district. This past year, we saw a variety of accomplishments in each of those areas.

In Birch Bay, drainage and water quality problems exist in places where the infrastructure is undersized, failing or non-existent. BBWARM builds stormwater capital improvement projects (CIPs) to address these issues.

In 2017, a new stormwater inlet was constructed on Cottonwood Drive to reduce the risk of flooding in the south Cottonwood neighborhood, minimize streambank erosion and provide an emergency overflow structure for high flow events. Two more projects are currently in the design phase for 2018.

Three new programs were initiated in Birch Bay this year and all proved successful. In order to address chronic maintenance and repair issues, such as broken culverts or sediment-filled ditches and storm drains, a Small Works Program was developed. Six projects were completed this year and two more are underway.

As part of the new Habitat Improvements Program, a collaborative project between BBWARM and Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) resulted in significant salmonid spawning and rearing habitat improvements in a section of Terrell Creek between Brown Road and Aldergrove Road. Riparian and instream habitat enhancements involved the placement of large woody debris, spawning gravel and native vegetation. Materials for the project were purchased by BBWARM while NSEA coordinated the labor and logistics.

Much of the work we do in Birch Bay would not be possible without the dedication and involvement of community members. A new storm watchers volunteer program trains local residents to monitor and report flooding, erosion and water quality problems associated with poor drainage or inadequate stormwater infrastructure. The program also provides residents with the knowledge and skills necessary to keep drainage systems functioning during storm events and avoid damage to personal property or roadways.

Reported problem areas are evaluated by Whatcom County for repair or maintenance. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Holly Faulstich at hfaulsti@co.whatcom.wa.us and become a Storm Watcher today!

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