Bay water district nicks big grant
Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen’s office announced Monday that an $850,000 grant to install sewers and associated waste water collection apparatus in the 40-acre Birch Bay View neighborhood has been awarded to the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD). When completed, the project should eliminate a chronic source of pollution that occurs when the septic systems in the neighborhood periodically overflow.
Currently, 126 of a possible 160 houses have been constructed in the hillside tract that lies immediately north and uphill from both the heavily developed and densely populated Birch Bay Village and Birch Bay itself.
According to Kremen’s administrative assistant Suzanne Mildner, “The onsite septic systems serving the Birch Bay View neighborhood have experienced failures, and as a result the area has been a concern of Whatcom County Health Department.”.
The BBWSD successfully applied for Community Development Block Grant funding through Whatcom County, which in turn applied on the district’s behalf and subsequently awarded it the funds. Only counties are eligible to apply for and receive this type of funding, but once they get it they can pass it on.
BBWSD manager Roger Brown said he appreciated “the support from the county executive and county council in going for the grant. Without this financial help we would not be in a position to move ahead with this important project.”
According to both the Washington State Department of Health and the Puget Sound Action Team, Birch Bay is one of the top 20 shellfish areas in Washington threatened by pollution. Eliminating 126 septic drain fields of uncertain age and viability which lie directly uphill from the bay and a shoreline development which has the highest concentration of houses in the area is therefore a high priority for the county council and county executive Kremen, Mildner said.