Cityreduces project costs by as much as $1 million

Published on Thu, Aug 31, 2006 by Tara Nelson

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City reduces project costs by as much as $1 million

By Tara Nelson

The city of Blaine could save as much as $1 million in construction costs with the new waste water treatment facility by constructing part of the building below ground level, Steve Banham, Blaine public works director said.

In an August 28 work session, city officials unveiled preliminary plans for the city’s $30 million Blaine Lighthouse Point water reclamation facility, scheduled for completion in 2009.

The project is planned for the north side of Marine Drive on Blaine’s constructed spit and includes provisions for a new 400,000-gallon storage tank to alleviate insufficient capacity of the existing tank as well as two odor control towers standing approximately 40 feet tall.

Terry Brown, an architect with the Zervas Group, who is working on the design of the project, said part of the building would be below ground level to eliminate the need for certain foundational supports which would reduce construction costs.

“By removing all of the soil, that removes the weight and the building can take its place and there is no need for pilings,” Brown said. “It’s actually kind of a novel approach.”

Banham agreed. “The intent in doing that is to reduce the construction costs,” he said. “Originally we had some pretty substantial costs associated with the construction but by digging it down we could reduce the foundation costs by anywhere from a half million to $1 million.”
Banham added that such a move also reduces the visual impact of the facility, a concern that was expressed by some members of the community. The design also meets many requirements for Leadership and Energy Efficiency in Design (LEED), a national independent certification program that encourages sustainable and energy efficient building practices, although Banham said it is unlikely he will apply for costly LEED certification.

“A lot of the LEED concepts have worked their way into the design, but there’s still some discussion as to whether to apply for certification,” he said. “At this point, I’m very, very cost conscious. I want to be really sensitive to the rate payers, and I’m already pushing that envelope pretty hard.”

The facility is expected to help the city of Blaine reduce wastewater overflows during rainy seasons, help protect local shellfish beds and conserve water by creating a high-quality effluent that can be used for irrigation and industry, Banham said.

The plant will be able to produce as much as 350,000 to 400,000 gallons of water a day that could be safely used for irrigation and industry such as with Semiahmoo Golf Course, the city’s largest user of water. This, he said, would substantially reduce the demand for fresh, potable water.

The final design will also include a historic replica of the historic Semiahmoo Lighthouse, designed by Blaine resident and former planning commissioner Brad O’Neill.

Banham said he is still looking at securing more state and federal grants and low-interest loans to ease the burden on city ratepayers.

“Most of the funding will come in low-interest loans from the public works trust fund,” Banham said, adding that the project was given number two status in the state for funding in the next legislative session.
Other possible sources include the Washington State Department of Ecology’s clean water program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development division and the Community Economic Revitalization Board of the state department of Community Trade and Economic Development.

The final design is scheduled for completion later this year. Banham said depending on whether the city receives necessary grant funding, construction could begin as early as summer of 2007.