BBWARM wins award for civil engineering

Published on Wed, May 14, 2014 by Steve Guntli

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Birch Bay Watershed and Aquatic Resources Management (BBWARM) is being honored for outstanding achievement in civil engineering. 

The American Society of Civil Engineers Seattle Section bestowed BBWARM with the 2013 Honor Award in water resources for its Cottonwood Neighborhood Drainage Improvements Project.

The project was initiated in 2013 to address a series of drainage problems on Birch Bay Drive and Cedar Avenue, and focus specifically on improving water quality in the Cottonwood neighborhood. According to monthly sample tests conducted between 2006 and 2012, the creek in that neighborhood contained six times the fecal coliform bacteria as the next highest body of water. 

A new drainage system and a stormwater conveyance system were installed beneath Cedar Avenue to divert flooding. Whatcom County Public Works senior planner Kraig Olason says that he’s seen a lot of improvement in the neighborhood already.

“It used to flood out there a few times a year,” Olason said. “But we had a huge rain the Sunday before last and we didn’t have any flooding.”

A six-celled bioswale was installed to treat the 11 acres of residential land that tested highest for fecal coliform bacteria. Additionally, some broken and outdated pipes were replaced, which will help immensely with maintenance in the future. 

A public hearing has been scheduled for May 14 regarding further improvements to the Cottonwood infrastructure. The public works department is seeking permitting to connect a high-flow system that will drain stored water from the upland areas down to the beach.

Len Honcoop Gravel, Inc., with assistance by Reichhardt & Ebe Engineering, completed the project for approximately $470,000. 

For more information on preserving water quality, visit