City of Blaine to pay for migratory bird study

Published on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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A project to convey wastewater from Semiahmoo to the Lighthouse Point Water Reclamation Facility might end up affecting migratory birds, and the City of Blaine is going to spend more than $20,000 to figure out how.

The project will use existing and yet-to-be installed sewer pipe to transfer water from the old sewer treatment plant on the end of Semiahmoo Spit under Blaine Harbor to the Lighthouse Point facility, acting Blaine public works director Bill Bullock said. The installation of about 2,600 feet of pipe was originally scheduled for August, September and October, but encountered delays due to limited sewer pipe availability, Bullock explained.

The delays are pushing the project into November and December, which might affect migrating shore birds. The city will only be allowed to continue construction if ways to reduce the effects on the birds are determined, and the city’s main contractor on the project, Wilson Engineering, needs to hire a bird biologist to do that.

Though Blaine City Council approved the $20,340 amendment to the city’s contract with WIlson Engineering for the bird specialist, several council members wondered why it had to cost so much. Blaine community development director Michael Jones said the amount would be less expensive than waiting until April, when the migratory season is over, to complete construction.

Jones explained the process this way: Two days of bird observation have already happened, and Jones wrote the necessary permits in such a way as to allow construction in November, but not later into the winter, without determining how the area’s birds will be affected. The bird biologist Wilson Engineering hires will conduct two more days of observation, and if no negative effects on the birds are seen, construction will continue.

Further measures to protect migratory birds will be taken only if the bird specialist finds it necessary, Jones explained.
Based on preliminary observations, Jones said it doesn’t look like the area’s birds care much about the kind of construction Wilson Engineering is doing.

The wastewater conveyance project, with a total cost of $224,899, is part of a larger city effort to discontinue the aging Semiahmoo pump station. Once the conveyance project is complete, the city will only maintain the building on the site and return the rest of the land to the Lummi Nation.