County appoints five to BBWARM
By Jack Kintner
Whatcom County Council appointed five people to the new Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) advisory committee Tuesday night, completing a year-long implementation of a storm water management plan that was approved by the council last year. Since the county department of public works has been holding open meetings to organize the district using the services of consultants CH2M Hill.
Appointed to the staggered terms were Point Whitehorn environmental activist Alan Friedlob, four year term; Birch Point resident Keats Garmin, three years; BP Cherry Point refinery representative and environmental engineer Lesli Higginson, three years; Harborview Road resident and Birch Bay Water and Sewer District commissioner Don Montfort, two years and Ferndale resident Don Imhoff, two years. Imhoff represents the so-called uplands areas, land that is part of the watershed but several miles from Birch Bay.
“It’s basically a storm water management district,” said Friedlob, a leader in developing both the management district and the advisory committee along with Garmin, Birch Bay Village resident Ralph Falk and Cottonwood Reach resident Gerald Larson. The four began working in September of 2004 when the Birch Bay community plan was approved.
“This is good representation since it includes the core group who’s been working for four years but also representatives from the uplands and from the refinery,” Friedlob said. BP Cherry Point owns roughly 3,000 acres of property, most of which is within the Birch Bay watershed.
“We have had great interest with nine people applying for the five vacancies,” Friedlob continued, “and we’ve had a productive collaboration between public works and the citizen group.”
The organizing effort began with the county’s planning and development services department and then was handed off to public works, continuing under Craig Olason and Kirk Christianson. CH2M Hill’s consultant role in developing a storm water management plan has concluded, although a public watershed-wide meeting has been set for Thursday, May 21 to discuss the plan they’ve developed.
Watershed residents will be sent notices of the place and time in the mail.
Consensus on the citizen’s committee seems to be to leave the management of the district up to the public works department as opposed to setting up a separate entity such as the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District, Friedlob said.
“The next task is to set up a funding mechanism,” he continued, “how to finance all this in structuring fees, keeping it fair and equitable, how to inventory the increasing amount of impervious surfaces and so on.”
That task will be taken up by another consultant, the FCS group.