With a vision for environmental and community stewardship, Birch Bay Water & Sewer District celebrates its fiftieth anniversary. The District celebrated on June 2, at Beach Fest & Feast in Birch Bay State Park, offering wastewater treatment facility tours and information on clean drinking water.
“Our mission is to provide a reliable supply of safe and clean drinking water while managing removal of wastewater in an environmentally responsible way”, said Dan Eisses, General Manager. “Our staff works to provide customer service in a manner that protects our water resources and our environment.”
At the formation of the District, it was almost immediately faced with a water reliability and storage issue, so it purchased the local Birch Bay Water System. To expand the service area, Water Districts #6 and #8 were combined in 1987 to bring services to even more Birch Bay residents and renamed itself the Birch Bay Water & Sewer District. In 1989, the Blaine Groundwater Management Area was designated by Department of Ecology (DOE) for the District’s water source, putting into place a means to protect the potable water source.
On the wastewater side, back in the 1970s Birch Bay was becoming polluted, so the community worked with the District to construct a wastewater treatment plant just south of the State Park. The Birch Bay wastewater treatment plant, began operations in 1976. Today, the District operates a state of the art wastewater treatment plant winning many DOE Outstanding Wastewater Treatment awards and maintains more than 50 miles of wastewater pipe.
Water is a limited resource; with competing demands and limited supply, it is important to be good stewards. The District’s current water supply consists of groundwater delivered under a long-term wholesale contract with the City of Blaine. The District maintains 70 miles of water pipe around the service area and regularly achieves Department of Health water quality requirements. To enhance reliability in our water supply, the District recently finished a project funded by Department of Ecology to drill three exploratory wells in the deepwater aquifer.
Management of the District includes review of “Triple Bottom Line” performance indicators which include fiscal, environmental and customer service. Fiscally, the District looks to maintain a steady level containment of Operations & Maintenance costs while growing the number of connections. To address the environmental performance indicator, management reviews the electricity and sewage biosolid removal costs compared to the increasing wastewater inflow from a growing population. Related to customers, the District set a goal to reduce the number of customer water service lock offs for nonpayment by 10% annually in both 2017 and 2018. “In addition to managing triple bottom line performance indicators, the District has received clean audits from the State of WA Auditor’s office for recent years,” said Sandi McMillan, District Finance Director.
“Our employees are committed to our mission and are proud to serve our community,” Eisses adds. “Our best asset is our employees and the District looks forward to many more years of providing drinking water and environmentally sound wastewater services to our valued customers.”