Stormwater improvements slated for Birch Point

Published on Wed, May 11, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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The Charel Terrace area of Semiahmoo will receive stormwater improvements that Whatcom County Public Works hopes will reduce flooding and help to clean water as it flows out to Semiahmoo Bay.

In preparation for the project, the Whatcom County Council on Tuesday approved a $14,521 contract with Bellingham-based Rosario Archeology, LLC, to perform an archeology assessment of the area to determine if the project could disturb any historically significant artifacts. The cost will be paid through Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management District.

The county has contracted with Ferndale-based Land Development Engineering and Surveying, Inc. to improve existing stormwater pipes and construct bioswales along Charel Drive and Carey Lane west of Semiahmoo Drive. The work, set to start in August and last one month, will improve stormwater management in a residential area that has endured serious flooding over the past few winters, county stormwater engineer Kraig Olason said.

Ramon Llanos, the principal engineer with Land Development Engineering and Surveying, said the most common source of flooding in the area is water overflowing from a retention pond on Trillium property east of Semiahmoo Drive. The water flows over Semiahmoo Drive, west down Charel Drive and eventually to Carey Lane.

The current stormwater pipes and retention structures either frequently get clogged with leaves and other debris or are damaged.

The improvements will include replacing existing pipe leading from the retention pond to Charel Drive and adding bioswales on either side of Charel Drive, Llanos explained.The bioswales, landscape features resembling ditches, will slow the water as it flows toward Semiahmoo Bay and help remove silt and pollution.

The stormwater pipe under Carey Lane leading to the bay will also be replaced. Llanos said his preliminary inspections of the pipe showed it is heavily damaged and in some places completely broken in two.

The improved stormwater system is designed to have more capacity than will likely be needed in the near future, Olason said. The combination of new pipe and bioswales will be able to handle the amount of stormwater that would flow through the area if the retention pond were not there.

For more information or for updates on the project, contact Olason at 360/715-7450 ext. 50782 or by email at