Blaine, Lummi get federal funding

Published on Thu, Feb 20, 2003 by Meg Olson

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Blaine, Lummi get federal funding

By Meg Olson

Money for the future of Blaine’s wastewater and the site where the city now treats it made the final cut to be included in the 2003 federal budget.


The Omnibus Appropriations Bill, agreed to by both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate last week, includes $225,000 for the city of Blaine and $90,000 for the Lummi Nation. The city will use the money to begin planning a new sewer system and make needed repairs to the old one. The tribe meanwhile, will begin preparations to turn the old sewage treatment plant site, also the site of an aboriginal burial, into a memorial and a heritage center.


“The funding was a joint effort between the Lummi Nation, the city and Senator Patty Murray’s office,” said Lummi representative Aaron Thomas.


Thomas said the tribe will use the funding to draw up plans for the heritage preservation site, “a place where we can make sure where our ancestors once lived is preserved.” The site at the foot of Semiahmoo spit is now home to the city wastewater treatment plant, built in 1980. A proposed expansion of the plant was halted by state and federal authorities in 1999 after human remains were discovered and removed from the site by the project archaeologist.

Blaine public works director Steve Banham said the city would use the funds to come up with a plan to address everything from where the city should put its new plant to how much capacity that plant should have. He also said the plan would look at overflow prevention and current plans for repairs to lift station one on Marine Drive and permanent overflow storage capacity on Marine Drive. “In order to accommodate state department of ecology concerns about overflows we need to update our general sewer plan,” he said. “The valid concern is that we don’t build a project only to find it doesn’t work with the new sewer plant.”


Todd Webster from Senator Patty Murray’s office said Murray had worked to keep the original request for $250,000 for Blaine sewer planning in the final bill and was proud to have come close to the mark, “especially if the federal funding wasn’t available the burden would fall on local taxpayers.”


The appropriations bill also includes close to $100 million in funding for fisheries on the west coast, including $10 million to get a buy-back program going for groundfish fishers, allowing fishers who want to leave the overcrowded industry and $28 million for programs to help restore endangered salmon runs. “It’s probably a belated acknowledgement of these urgent needs,” Webster said.


The bill targets several local law enforcement problems as well, earmarking $1 million for a criminal justice integration project in Whatcom County and $3 million to help states and counties in Washington deal with the proliferation of “meth labs.” Border security and mobility will also get additional resources, through funding for more border patrol agents and $750,000 for the Cascade Gateway project. “For residents of Whatcom County this isn’t just a national security issue,” Webster said. “It’s about the economy and people’s daily lives.”

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