Water contract final, sewer contract comes next

Published on Thu, Apr 4, 2002 by Meg Olson

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Water contract final,
sewer contract comes next

By Meg Olson

On Tuesday Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) manager Roger Brown and Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic met to sign a 30-year contract for the city to sell the district water. Then they sat down to talk about what is likely to be the next contact they sign – one for the district to treat the city’s sewage.

“Now that this is done I hope Roger will be right with us,” Tomsic said at the April 12 meeting. The district is one of three partners in a proposal to develop a regional sewer and replace the sewer plant on Semiahmoo spit with a Coast Salish memorial and education center. However, BBWSD management and commissioners have not participated in trips to Washington D.C. with representatives from Blaine and the Lummi Nation to seek federal support for the project, stating they could not move forward with sewer planning until water issues were resolved.

“This takes a long standing problem and gets it behind us –where our long-term water supply was coming from,” Brown said of the new water contract, approved by water district commissioners with no discussion at their March 28 meeting. “It gives us a long-term partner to pursue the development of water resources we’ll both need,” Tomsic said. “It puts us in a position to work together to meet our mutual needs.” Blaine city council had approved the contract March 25.

While waiting to learn the fate of requests for federal appropriations and policy changes that would clear the way for $5.25 million in funding for the regional sewer and $1.75 for the recovery and reburial of remains at the Semiahmoo site, Brown and Tomsic said they have a lot of catching up to do.

“He’s been leading the lobbying effort,” Brown said. “I want to get caught up with that and the schedule of next steps.”

“One of the next steps we had identified was to follow up on the D.C. trip with a similar trip to Olympia,” Tomsic said. Over the course of three years, from 2003-2005, the plan is to look for $19 million in federal funding and $16 million in state and local matching funds for the regional sewer. The Semiahmoo restoration and memorial project is estimated to need $7.4 million in federal funds.

The city’s plan to spend the money next year would be for updates to the city and district comprehensive sewer plans, improvements to the Marine Drive lift station and a shunt to start sending some of the city’s waste to the district. These steps are planned to stop sewage overflows whole laying the groundwork for the regional system.

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