Aroundthe City

Published on Thu, Dec 14, 2006
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Around the City

Water district offers leak credit
Birch Bay Water and Sewer district is offering credit to customers who experienced a break in their water lines as a result of the recent cold weather spell.

Residents of Birch Bay can apply for a one-time credit to their bill for their estimated loss by submitting proof of repair and allowing for an inspection by Birch Bay water officials. The credit is based on the average usage during the last three billings or the same period of the previous year, whichever is greater, said Glen Golay, treasurer for the Birch Bay district.

“So if their bill is normally $90 and they get a bill for $300 and if they get the leak repaired properly and we go out and inspect it, we’ll give them a credit for the difference, which could be a substantial amount,” he said.

Residents are allowed to apply for the credit only once every three years. Golay said that puts the responsibility on the owner to make sure their side of the water system is in good working order.

“We want to make sure we’re not giving the same credit to that same person because they haven’t properly winterized,” he said.

District general manager Roger Brown said beginning November 30, water usage in Birch Bay jumped from 800,000 gallons per day to 1.6 million. Brown said over a six-day period, the district lost approximately 2 million gallons, at a rate of 330,000 gallons per day of water from pipes that were broken or leaking as a result of the cold weather.

“We had some pretty low temperatures for about one week and when temperatures increased into the high 30s, things began to thaw out and pipes burst,” he said. “It was almost like summer time usage.”
He added that because many Birch Bay residents are seasonal, homeowners are often unaware of the problem for several months.
“If they’re not here and no one happens to notice it, it may go on for a longer period of time and they will be facing a pretty good bill when they return,” he said. “Of course, if we hear the water or if someone reports it, we’ll turn off the water to the house.”

Brown said the district returned to its normal range around
December 7.

Residents who have an increased water bill as a result of pipe breakage should call the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District at 371-7100 or visit their office at 7096 Point Whitehorn Road in Birch Bay.

District makes up for lost days
The Blaine school board added some days and moved a few things around last Monday night to compensate for the five days school was closed after the Thanksgiving weekend storm.

The five days will be made up by taking two days from mid-winter break, March 8 and 9, holding school on what was a planned one-day teacher workshop on May 7 and by adding June 14 and 15 to the year.

Graduation has been moved from Monday, June 11 to Thursday, June 14, to guarantee the required 175-day year for graduating seniors, and the first semester now ends on February 2, one week later than originally planned, with finals to be held February 1 and 2.

Sewer rates to increase 6.5 percent in 2007

Blaine residents can expect their monthly bill to increase 6.5 percent next year.

The current residential rate is $56.14 per month, which will increase to $59.80 per month beginning in January of 2007.

Steve Banham, director of Blaine Public Works, said this is the third in a series of rate increases over the next several years to help fund the construction of a new water reclamation facility on Marine Drive.

Seniors and handicapped individuals who qualify for a discounted rate will experience only slight increases in their monthly bill, Banham said.

The rate increase will also affect the one-time connection fees bringing them from $4,725 up to $5,316 per single family
residential unit.

Banham said this ensures new development pays for its share of the increased burden on public services. Residential users who suspend their water and sewer services will continue to be still able to pay a reduced wastewater fee of $29.90 per month.

Blaine currently has the highest water utility rates in the county.
For more information, call Blaine public works at 332-8820 or email