BBWARM meeting scheduled July 1

Published on Thu, Jun 26, 2008 by oral Garnick

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BBWARM meeting scheduled July 1

By Coral Garnick

Residents within the Birch Bay watershed could pay an additional $60 to $108 in taxes in 2009 if the details of a new funding plan are approved next month.

The funding plan was created in May by FCS Group, a financial consulting agency, and will be presented to Whatcom County Council on July 8 by the newly formed Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) advisory committee.

The proposed fees in the funding plan are designed to mitigate problems caused by impervious surfaces, surfaces where rainfall is not absorbed into the soil, on developed parcels in Birch Bay’s watershed, said Kraig Olason, Whatcom County Public Works. Runoff from these surfaces carry material such as fertilizers, road salts, motor oils, and animal wastes into nearby streams and into Birch Bay.

If Whatcom County Council approves the funding plan, the money raised will be used to fund stormwater projects, such as improving the drainage on Birch Bay Drive, reconstructing the Terrell Creek culvert, inspecting and maintaining stormwater facilities, monitoring water quality, and educating the community, Olason said.

The proposed rates will be applied to both residential and commercial properties. FCS Group determined the average impervious square footage for a residential parcel in the Birch Bay watershed to be 4,000 square feet, or an equivalent service unit (ESU).

Residential parcels will be assessed a $5 to $9 a month fee depending on the percent of impervious surface area on the parcel, and commercial parcels will have their total amount of impervious surface area totaled and divided by 4,000 square feet to determine the number of ESUs and will be charged between $5 and $9 a month for each ESU.

In July 2006, residents of Birch Bay, Whatcom County Department of Planning and Development Services, and environmental consultant CH2MHILL completed the Birch Bay Comprehensive Stormwater Plan (CSP), which was then adopted by the Whatcom County Council in November of that same year with the hope that it would help to restore and sustain the area’s aquatic resources.

More than a year later in March of 2007, Whatcom County Council approved the creation of the BBWARM to make sure the CSP’s recommendations were put into action, which was followed in May by the creation of the BBWARM advisory committee to work on funding, said Kathy Berg, chair of Birch Bay Steering Committee.

The BBWARM advisory committee will have their first meeting on July 1 where they will elect a chair and co-chair, as well as create the ordinance of the draft funding plan that will be introduced to Whatcom County Council July 8.

If council approves the funding plan this summer, the stormwater parcel fees will be included in the 2009 tax statement, Olason said.

“We need to get this done this summer so there is time to get it into the county treasurer,” Berg said. “We don’t want to waste anymore time, we have been planning for eight years.”