Aroundthe City

Published on Thu, Sep 28, 2006
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Around the City

Water pressure improvements
Residents living between the watershed and Sweet Road who experience low water pressure are scheduled to receive improvements, according to Blaine public works director Steve Banham.

In a meeting last Monday, Blaine City Council approved an agreement between the city and Reichhardt & Ebe, a Lynwood-based engineering firm, for the design of the new well 9 as well as the redesign of the existing well 5 in east Blaine.

Banham said by installing a new well and increasing the pumping capacity of well 5, the city can keep up with the demand expected from future growth in the Blaine and Birch Bay communities.
The project is also expected to increase water pressure for approximately 12 residents along Sweet Road, which is currently fluxuating at about 20 pounds per square inch (psi), with even lower pressure during summer months when the reservoir is lower.
Washington state requires that public water purveyors provide a minimum pressure of 30 psi at the customer’s meter location, Banham said.

He added that the problem is caused by a lack of elevation difference between the houses and the aquifer, rather than a shortage of water as a result of increased demand.“It’s a geographical problem, based on location,” he said, adding that, “In the summer, the pressure goes from not very good to really not very good and that becomes an issue, more so for some than for others.”

The project will also increase the pumping capacity of well 5 from 335 gallons per minute to 450 gallons per minute.

In a September 11 meeting, the council had previously talked about the possibility of individual pressure booster systems but Banham said after more discussion, additional wells and piping would be the best solution.

The council also approved the department’s capital improvement budget, which calls for water supply, distribution and storage improvements totaling more than $10 million during the next six years.
More than $8 million of the total $10 million will come from state and federal loans.

The remaining $2 million will be transferred from capital reserve funds and operation revenues.
Banham said he expects the project to be completed as early as next summer.

Truck route reconstruction
During the month of October, Banham said motorists should be advised that construction on State Route 543 will narrow the road to two lanes, eliminating the northbound passenger vehicle lane.
Banham said the city is also looking at closing off access from the west side of D Street to the truck stop as well as the east side of D Street later that month.

Updates on the truck crossing will be available on the city’s web site at

City seeks rail improvements
In a letter dated earlier this month, Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic requested Washington state representative Rick Larsen to consider traffic problems stemming from the location of the VACIS radiation detection equipment, south of Blaine on Peace Portal Way.
Tomsic said he had spoken to Larsen earlier this year about moving the VACIS equipment to a different location, as the current location at Swift Siding continues to block intersections and present “very real problems” with regard to emergency response vehicles. Noise is also a problem, Tomsic said.

These problems will fester and will never go away until the equipment is moved,” Tomsic said.

He added that a June 27 status report from the Washington state governor’s office cited the need to spend $13.8 million to do more construction at the Swift Siding because the freight trains were slowing Amtrak passenger trains.

“If the federal government is willing to spend $13.8 million so the passenger train can go faster, why can it not help move the equipment down the rail line so that we do not experience these delays?” he wrote.

“If all this work is going forward, why not undo a huge mistake and help our community in addition to Amtrak?”

Tomsic also stated in a September 25 council meeting that he may also request a “quiet zone” designation from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) for several Blaine crossings to prevent trains from honking in those areas.