CWAC, city seek public feedback

Published on Thu, Aug 21, 2003 by Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

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CWAC, city seek public feedback

By Rebecca Schwarz Kopf

The Citizens Wastewater Advisory Committee (CWAC) is in the process of evaluating alternatives and plans for Blaine�s wastewater plant, and announced they are seeking feedback from the community and have invited a Lummi representative to sit on the committee.

CWAC, which consists of more than 10 local residents with broad backgrounds, was appointed by the Blaine city council on May 12 to examine and evaluate long term wastewater disposal alternatives. They met for the fifth time Tuesday evening to review a consultant/city staff-generated list of 13 alternatives for Blaine�s wastewater plant. According to public works director Steve Banham, CWAC will next evaluate these alternatives and others, using self-generated objectives and guiding principles, including safeguarding the beneficial uses of marine waters, projecting and enhancing community livability, meeting other non-technical community objectives, meeting growth and development requirements in a timely fashion and ensuring the highest constructability, operability, and cost-efficiency.

At its next meeting, CWAC hopes to shorten that list to three to five alternatives that they will prioritize for city council consideration, Banham said. The committee will then recommend one preferred alternative to city council to advance to the facility planning stage.

�Now that CWAC has been provided with alternatives that now must be further evaluated, the committee and city officials are encouraging the public to review the information that they are receiving, as well as the progress of their work, by visiting the city of Blaine website at, or by contacting the public works department at 332-8311,� Banham said.

Lummi representative to sit on committee
Willie Jones of the Lummi Nation attended Tuesday�s meeting and congratulated CWAC on the process they were working through to explore wastewater alternatives.

�I am not sitting here waiting for you to make a mistake. I�d like to eventually be a participant and we want to partner with you,� he said.�We have concerns about water, land and air. We want to work jointly with you and we like this process.�

CWAC unanimously invited a Lummi representative to sit with them during their continued evaluation process. �I am delighted to have Lummi representation on the committee,� Banham said. �The city has been working to involve all stakeholders in the plant replacement discussion and the Lummi Nation is clearly a significant stakeholder.�

Jones said he wants to see the process continued and a solution to the plant problem created to ensure that future generations can enjoy what he has enjoyed.

�I used to shellfish when I was a kid. I would dive off the dock at 12,� he said of how he enjoyed the area. �This to me is my home, just like it�s your home. I want to see it (the process) continued, because if we don�t, our kids aren�t going to have anything.�

Jones, who was on the Tribal Council in 2000 when native remains were disrupted during construction at the current wastewater plant, said he has spent a lot of time thinking about that.

�I spent a lot of time at the beginning wondering what happened,� he said. �But we worked through that on a government to government relationship, and the city is committed to getting out of that site with the Lummi.�

Once the city of Blaine leaves its current wastewater site, the Lummi tribe plans to build a cultural and heritage center there. �This to me is homeland,� Jones said. �If they move, we�re willing to help them (city of Blaine) lobby.�

Banham said the city agrees with the tribal center. �The city is committed to seeing the existing wastewater plant site relocated so that this area can be used as a cultural heritage center,� he said.

Currently, the Lummi Nation and the city of Blaine are working together to secure funding for both the plant replacement and cultural heritage center.

�Good communication with the Lummi Nation during the early planning stages will be important to the success of our process,� Banham said.

Comprehensive plan, funding
Steve Banham said the wastewater comprehensive plan is still set to be completed some time in October of 2003. The city is working with CH2M Hill, a large Denver-based engineering and construction firm specializing in water-wastewater issues, to establish a tech team.

�Their size and expertise in addressing the problems and difficulties phase makes a lot of sense,� Banham said, when asked why the city is working with CH2M Hill on the project.

This is also a good time to finish the comprehensive plan, Banham said, as the Cain Water Act Centennial Fund is accepting applications on February 1.

�The financial impact of this project is not yet fully known,� Banham said. �And we are not ready to release the possible locations of plant alternatives.�

Banham said it�s important to go after all monetary opportunities and come up with a plan that has widespread community support. �Once we pick a solution, we have to work through the financial end.�

Banham said by 2008-2009, the city�s sewer issue should be solved. �I would like to think better than that, but a five-year plan would be more realistic. This committee is comprised of people from a wide variety of backgrounds and we want to involve the community in this. This is exciting.�

The CWAC committee consists of the following local residents: Frank Bresnan, Pam Christianson, Dave Fakkema, Jeff Green, Trevor Hoskins, Jan Hrutfiord, Jim Jorgensen, Geoff Menzies, Brad O'Neill, and Ken Raithel.

CWAC�s next scheduled will be held on Wednesday, September 10, from 5:30 - 9 p.m. at Blaine city hall to finalize their work and make a recommendation to the Blaine city council.

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