Treatment alternatives to be presented at open house

Published on Thu, Oct 2, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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Treatment alternatives to be presented at open house

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

The Citizens Wastewater Advisory Committee (CWAC) met again last week and established three preferred alternatives that will go before the city council in a study session next Monday and a public open house on Wednesday, October 8.

The alternatives were decided from a total of 14, and ranged in estimated cost from $15 - $36 million.

�What the advisory committee will be recommending are the top three preferred alternatives,� public works director Steve Banham said.

Alternative A: Build new lift station and force main to City of Surrey and convey Blaine wastewater to Greater Vancouver Regional District�s (GVRD) Annacis Island plant from new lift station in central Blaine. Pump untreated west Blaine flow to new lift station. Total capital costs are estimated to be $21,734,000.

Alternative B: Build one new membrane plant in the west Blaine uplands and use the existing outfall for effluent discharge. Convey untreated east Blaine flows via Surrey, B.C. conveyance system to GVRD�s Annacis Island treatment plant. Total estimated capital costs are $18,336,000.

Alternative C: Install two new plants, a larger one on Marine Drive and a smaller one in west Blaine. Combine the plant effluents and use the existing outfall at the site of the present Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Total capital costs are estimated to be $21,734,000.

CH2M Hill, a Colorado-based engineering consulting firm recognized for their expertise in wastewater planning, has been working with the city and CWAC in this process. So far, the company has been paid a total of $151,476 � that money comes from a $225,000 federal grant which is specified for wastewater planning, according to city of Blaine finance director Meredith Riley.

According to public works, the city of Blaine is working to acquire federal and loan commitments from rural development, and additional grants and loans will be sought at both the state and federal levels.

The city has worked with CH2M Hill to identify the best strategy for pursuing this funding, and certain alternative locations could produce more funding potential than others. It is likely that some additional rate increases would be necessary to cover the cost of the relocation, according to public works.

Cross-harbor concerns
During the last CWAC meeting, committee members were still concerned with sending waste across the harbor.

Linda Macpherson, facilitator with CH2M Hill, recognized that piping under water has been a big issue for the CWAC committee and said she had recently spoken with some experts.

�Pipes are considered safer than pump stations,� she said.

Ron Brown, CH2M Hill project manager whose expertise is working with treatment plants, said that pipes under the water are used all over the world. There are several piping options he told the committee, including a single pipe, a pipe within a pipe and armor within the pipe.

�Obviously the more safeguards you have, the more the costs go up,� he said, adding a pump station is more likely to have problems than piping.

Brown also said that the original pipe used for the Blaine plant years ago was made of fiberglass, and at the time this form of piping was widely used. Shortly after that pipe was put in, he said, it was found to be brittle. �There were three documented breaks because of it,� he said.

There is now a replacement pipe made of 40-foot segments of ductile iron, and there have been no documented leaks, he said. �You can create a system that you�re looking for, with conditions and concerns,� Brown said.

�You can design a system that ensures no negative environmental factors.�

CH2M Hill representatives also told the committee that the locations of the pipe is less crucial than the location of a pump station.

�Can there be safeguards on pump stations as well?� committee member and Blaine council woman Bonnie Onyon asked.

�Yes, absolutely,� Brown replied. �And the state�s going to require you to have backups.�

Brown also told the committee that levels of methane were discovered in the late 80s and early 90s and were coming from the decomposition of waste. There was leakage and metals present.

�Do those conditions still exist? What�s underneath there?� Brown asked the committee. �That�s what we need to find out.�

Open house
The public open house to present these sewer alternatives will be held next Wednesday, October 8 at the new Blaine fire station at 9408 Odell Road, starting at 6:30 p.m. All members of the committee will be present to share information with the public about CWAC and how the committee came to their findings.

In addition, Lummi Nation representatives may be present to discuss future plans they have with the site. The city of Blaine and the Lummi Nation are in agreement that the city will eventually leave the site and the Lummi will build a cultural/heritage center there.

Following the findings of human remains in 1999 at the treatment plant during construction, the Lummi were paid $1 million from the city of Blaine - most of that covered through the city�s insurance.

None of the alternatives are set in stone yet, and committee members were concerned that the public would want more detail.

Trevor Hoskins said he was concerned with presenting some of the alternative information to the public as there are no definite plans, but CH2M Hill advised him that the process is a number of steps, and the next step is much more detailed.

�We probably know as much about one option as much as we do the others,� Brown said.

�It�s very important the public understands that,� Hoskins responded. �They�ll want to know.� Several members said they were uncomfortable with presenting information to the public as they are not professionals in the subject matter.

�These are your decisions. They hired us to help you through this process,� Macpherson said. �This is your community.�

Committee member Pam Christianson said 90 percent of people don�t care about �everything we�ve gone through. They don�t want it (treatment plant) in their backyard and they want it as cheap as possible. We need to have our ducks in a row to explain to the public what we evaluated and why we think those are best.�

Canada/Birch Bay
Debate over sending waste to Canada and Birch Bay continued, as both ideas are included in the three preferred alternatives.

As for Canada, committee members were told that the communities of Sumas and Point Roberts are currently served by Canada for sewer and water, respectively.

�Obviously Sumas has done it,� public works director Steve Banham said. �The more iffy things is the international exchange rate.�

The exchange rate and the political climate � being that Canada is an entirely different country ��worried some of the committee members. Some said the issue becomes less of an engineering problem and more of legal, contractual thing.

City manager Gary Tomsic said there are a lot of questions that have yet to be answered, but the city is working on that. �We�ll need to focus on a contract that�s as long as possible,� he said. �We have another meeting scheduled with GVRD where we will map out the decision making process and see if they will take us on as a customer.�

Steve Hovde, of the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD), said they may be growing in the future and are seeing a lot of growth along Birch Bay Drive. �There might be some possibilities to partner,� Hovde said about Blaine and Birch Bay sharing treatment functions.

Committee member Geoff Menzies said that Blaine and Birch Bay could share costs, which means they also share risks.

Mark Henderson of the Department of Ecology works with CWAC as an advisor, and gave some good advice to the committee at the end of their last meeting. �The decision you make should last at least 25 years,� he said. �Whatever it is you buy, make sure it�s durable.�

Individuals seeking additional information, can visit online at www.cityofblaine.com and click under �what�s new� or �citizens wastewater advisory committee.� Additional materials can be found at the public works conference room at 1200 Yew Avenue in Blaine from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Top Three Alternatives

Following weeks of work, the Citizens Wastewater Advisory Committee chose three preferred alternatives from a list of 14, that ranged in total capital costs of $15 - $36 million. These alternatives now head to city council in a study session and a public open house next week.

Alternative A
Build new lift station and force main to city of Surrey and convey Blaine wastewater to Greater Vancouver Regional District�s (GVRD) Annacis Island plant from new lift station in central Blaine. Pump untreated West Blaine flow to new lift station. Total capital costs are estimated to be $21,734,000.

Alternative B
Build one new membrane plant in the west Blaine uplands and use the existing outfall for effluent discharge. Convey untreated east Blaine flows via city of Surrey, B.C. conveyance system to GVRD�s Annacis Island Treatment. Total estimated capital costs are $18,336,000.

Alternative C
Install two new plants, a larger one on Marine Drive and a smaller one in west Blaine. Combine the plant effluents and use the existing outfall at the site of the present Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Total estimated capital costs are $21,734,000.

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