The Birch Bay Water and Sewer District (BBWSD) announced it received two construction loans from the Washington State Department of Commerce’s Public Works Board to improve reliability and capacity of the water supply.
The two loans totaled nearly $3 million, the first being a $1.3 million low-interest loan to fund the installation of a new 170,000-gallon water storage tank and water system upgrades at Point Whitehorn. The second loan, totaling $1.53 million, will fund replacement of water mains and storage capacity at Semiahmoo and Birch Point reservoirs.
In a statement, BBWSD officials said both loans are direly needed to replace aging and vulnerable water infrastructure in the Birch Bay watershed. Birch Bay is the largest urban growth area in Whatcom County, and BBWSD currently serves over 8,000 water connections on an annual operating budget of roughly $7 million, according to the release.
A single pipeline that runs through fragile conservation areas and wetlands, for example, currently facilitates water delivery systems at Point Whitehorn. At Birch Point, a 50-year-old pipe feeds into the reservoir and is nearing the end of its lifespan.
“Birch Bay customers want affordability in water and sewer service(s), and this is one of the ways we keep rates low,” Sandi McMillan, finance director for BBWSD, said in the statement. “The interest rate on this infrastructure project financing is 1.65 percent, less than half of what issuing bonded debt would be, saving a lot of money over the next 20 years and helping to keep rates low.”
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