Year in Review: BBWSD

Published on Wed, Jan 2, 2013 by Emily Resch

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In September 2012, the district made its final payment on its 1997 revenue bond. The original revenue bond was for $11.9 million with an interest rate of 4.75 percent to 5.15 percent, and was refinanced in 2008 to lower the interest rate to 4 percent. The final debt payment to the bond frees up revenue capacity and enables the district to pursue low interest loans from the Public Works Trust Fund (PWTF) for facility improvement projects. 

The district submitted loan applications totaling $9 million to the PWTF for five facility improvement projects. Two of the five projects focus on upgrading and increasing sewer capacity of the sewer line along Birch Bay Drive. The district plans to coordinate with the Whatcom County pedestrian berm project to minimize impact and increase cost savings. With competing interest in the funds, funding is dependent on legislative approval.

The district received a $1.7 million loan from the PWTF for wastewater treatment plant upgrades to increase wastewater capacity. The district’s share of the project would be $90,000 for a $1.79 million total project cost. The district is currently designing the project and is scheduled to construct in 2013.

The district continues to take steps to improve the efficiency of the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Efficiency improvements thus far have allowed the district to switch from potable water to recycled water for its chlorination system, which helps regulate bacterial growth within the plant. The district also heats and cools its buildings with heat pumps that use the WWTP effluent as their energy source. Currently, the district is the only WWTP in Whatcom County utilizing its plant effluent in that way. As a result, the district has reduced its energy consumption by 27,000 kilowatt hours since 2007, enough to generate electricity for 26 homes, and reduced its potable water consumption by 90 percent, or 4 million gallons a year.

The district was awarded the 2011 Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Outstanding Performance Award by the Washington State Department of Ecology. With three awards in the last three years, Birch Bay is one of only two wastewater plants in Whatcom County, serving 4,000 people or more, that have won the award 10 or more times in the last 17 years. The district was also a part of the Puget Sound Champion Award given by the Puget Sound Partnership for its participation in Whatcom Watershed Information Network’s Whatcom Water Weeks, a two-week-long celebration of our local water resources.

The district continued active membership in the Whatcom Water Alliance, a regional water conservation group seeking to promote water conservation among local government water purveyors by coordinating public information efforts and related activities. 

For 2012, members agreed to support a voluntary odd-even watering schedule to reduce summer outdoor water usage and support rain barrels as a conservation activity.

Emily Resch
Birch Bay Water & Sewer District