Wet summer leads to BBWSD revenue shortfall

Published on Wed, Aug 1, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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A wetter than average summer has meant less water being used in Birch Bay which, in turn, means less revenue for the Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD).

Addressing commissioners at their July 26 meeting, assistant district manager Dan Eisses warned the district’s revenue could be $165,000 less than what was budgeted and said some projects slated to start this year might have to be put on hold.

“The plan is to slow down and look at these [projects] and not get too far ahead of the revenue shortfall,” Eisses said.

While some projects, such as replacing 1,500 feet of water line from Lincoln Road to Shintaffer Road, could wait, Eisses said he would like to keep others in play. The district is planning to install water line improvements along Birch Bay Drive and Eisses said the project should be substantially completed before Whatcom County Public Works begins construction work on the Birch Bay Drive and Pedestrian Facility in 2014 or 2015.

Other projects that could be delayed involved upgrades to the district’s water and sewer monitoring systems and installation
of remote water meter-reading technology. In all, Eisses identified about $145,000 in items in the 2012 budget that could be postponed.

Eisses said summertime water use is heavily dependent on how much it rains and pointed out rainfall means customers don’t have to water their lawns or outdoor plants.

“It rained every third day in July,” he said. “My lawn is still green as can be, and that almost never happens [in July].”

According to the district, 1.55 million gallons was the highest water-use day in 2011 while the equivalent day in 2012 is 1.22 million gallons; a 21 percent decrease. Overall, 2012 water use is well below the average compared with past Julys.

“Our maximum day this year has not even hit our typical average day for July,” Eisses said.

Eisses said the revenue shortfall shouldn’t affect district customers, and water rate increases have not been discussed at all for 2013.

“There’s a whole lot more analysis that would need to go into [rate increases],” Eisses said.