City moves forward with Lighthouse Point design

Published on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 by Tara Nelson

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City moves forward with Lighthouse Point design

By Tara Nelson

The city of Blaine has finalized its plans for a $33 million water reclamation facility slated for Marine Drive.

At a regular meeting of Blaine City Council last week, public works director Steve Banham unveiled the final design of Lighthouse Point, a wastewater treatment facility on Marine Drive that is planned for construction this summer.

The design team included Seattle wastewater engineering experts Brown and Caldwell, with local firms Zervas Group Architects and Wilson Engineering, and landscaping assistance by SVR.

An artist’s rendition features two contemporary buildings designed with LEED concepts in mind and includes bright and open breezeways, large windows to maximize passive solar energy and earthy tones. The only visible reminder of the treatment processes is four small ventilation stacks reaching only a few feet over the top of the main building.

Banham said this is because much of the treatment systems will be located below ground to minimize view obstructions and isolate possible noise pollution. Above ground tanks will be covered with a concrete lid to control odor and visual nuisances.

“What you see above ground is really the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The treatment process won’t be visible from the road because it will be underground. It will look like a big concrete barrier.”

He added that because the facility is integrated into the nearby park, it is designed to minimize blocks to pedestrian pathways. One way designers achieved this goal was to include a pedestrian bridge from the front of the facility to the beach.

The approximate 23,000-square foot facility will be able to produce as much as 350,000 to 400,000 gallons of highly-treated effluent per day. Banham said this effluent could be used safely 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.
Funding
Banham told the council the project is slated to receive $5 million in grants and another $22 million in low interest loans from the Department of Ecology’s Centennial Clean Water program that provides funding for projects that reduce non-point sources of water pollution.
Earlier this month, the city also learned that it had been awarded a $750,000 grant from the Department of Ecology’s Reclaimed Water program, although Banham said he had contested the amount. The city had originally applied for $1 million, he said.

“We think they’ll agree with us and give us the full million,” he said. In addition, he said the city has already received commitments from the Washington State Public Works trust fund board for as much as $17 million in low interest loans.

Whether the newly earmarked funds will lower monthly fees for ratepayers, however, is unclear. Banham said because new development is not occurring as quickly as once projected, the total cost could be divided among a smaller population base. Additional grants expected from the USDA’s Rural Development, however, could offset that.

“We’re not seeing as many housing starts as we once expected and if that continues to be depressed, it could have a negative effect on the rates because we’re counting on growth to help pay for some of that,” he said.

Banham said he will ask the city council next week to approve a request to open the project to construction bids. Once the bid is awarded, he said construction will likely begin as early as this summer and completed by 2010.