Birch Bay gets go-ahead to serve BP

Published on Thu, Aug 16, 2001 by Laura Thoren

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Birch Bay gets go-ahead to serve BP

By Laura Thoren

More than 10,000 feet of sewer line is currently being installed along Grandview and Whitehorn roads to redirect domestic sewage from the BP Cherry Point refinery to the newly upgraded Birch Bay Water and Sewer District plant.

In October 1999, the state department of ecology issued BP a new permit for domestic waste water treatment said Kim Wigfield, refinery permit supervisor with the Department of Ecology. The permit included pollution prevention additions, Wigfield said, including changes to chemical monitoring requirements and amount of chemical discharge. BP appealed the permit on the grounds that work force fluctuations during weekdays and weekends would prevent system efficiency Wigfield said.
Following an appeal process that went into effect in February 2001, BP agreed to reroute their domestic wastewater to BBWSD.

Last week, an amendment to the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District Comprehensive Plan to provide domestic wastewater treatment to the BP refinery was approved by the Whatcom County Council.

State law requires counties to approve or reject a comprehensive sewer system plan. Whatcom County approved the plan on the condition that the sewer line could not be used as justification in future attempts for Birch Bay to become a city. Also included was a condition that the rural property north of Grandview Road could not be rezoned.

Prevention of rezoning maintains a physical buffer between industrial areas and dense residential areas, county planner Matt Aamot said.
“BP is spending $1.2 million on the project,” BBWSD project manager Steve Hovde said. “No out-of-pocket money is expected from rate payers to make this connection.”

Fees for BP’s use of the BBWSD plant are still being negotiated, he said. “BP is buying a certain capacity,” he said. Hovde would not elaborate on other potential benefits to the district under the deal.

The district recently upgraded its processing capacity to 1.3 million gallons per day, Hovde said. The additional domestic waste water from the Cherry Point refinery accounts for about 2percent of that total,equivalent to 30,000 gallons per day, Hovde said.

Construction of the new wastewater line which began on July 9, also includes a pump station which is expected to be completed between November 2001 and March 2002, once its location on BP property is finalized. The pump station will move sewage from the refinery to Birch Bay for treatment.

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