Blaine partners with NSEA to study local watersheds

Published on Wed, Jul 16, 2014 by Ian Ferguson

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Blaine City Council has approved a multi-year contract with the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association (NSEA) to study and improve water quality in Drayton Harbor and the surrounding watersheds.

The $171,869 contract is funded largely by a grant from the state department of ecology with the city of Blaine responsible for $25,000. Public works director Ravyn Whitewolf said most of that commitment would come in the form of a public works crew and lab time during the project, which will extend into the spring of 2017. 

City council unanimously approved the contract at their July 14 meeting.

Whitewolf told councilmembers that she and the public works staff are confident in the abilities of NSEA to carry out the work.

“I can’t think of any organization that’s done more than NSEA has done in stream and watershed restoration around Whatcom County, so we’re very excited to be able to work with them,” Whitewolf said. “They’ve subcontracted out to a number of groups, all of whom have strengths in different areas.”

NSEA was chosen as the best-qualified firm out of three that responded to the city’s request for qualifications. The subcontractors include Hirsch Consulting Services, Environmental Science Associates, Herrera Environmental Consultants and Applied Research Northwest.

The project will monitor water quality throughout the watershed, pinpoint sources of pollution and identify corrective actions and system improvements, all while raising local awareness of pollution issues. Researchers will identify and quantify sources of fecal contamination from sewage and stormwater, then act to eliminate those sources, with the ultimate goal of improving water quality.

Restoration of the Cain Creek corridor is a major component of the project, but it will also include Dakota and California creeks as well as the greater Drayton Harbor watershed, Whitewolf told councilmembers.

“As we know, Drayton Harbor has a lot of longstanding issues with water quality and this is an amazing step forward,” Whitewolf said. “We’ve taken care of some of the big problems. We replaced that sewer line across the harbor and we’ve done a lot of work with farms and different sources of point pollution. This is looking at the problem through a different microscope and with a more scientific approach.”