Q: How much benefit will this project provide to fish?
A: The project will open up approximately 16 miles of habitat to Chinook salmon, Steelhead and Bull Trout species.
Q: Who is providing funding support and why does this project need additional funding?
A: The City is contributing money to both the design and construction phases of the project (currently a 17% match/cost-share of overall project cost). The existing diversion is fully functional, but immediate action is needed to recover ESA-listed salmon. The City's goal is to design a solution that supports the City's need to maintain municipal water supply while facilitating the dam removal and improving fish passage. Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, in coordination with American Rivers, is providing funding to achieve species and community benefits associated with restoration of habitat connectivity and dam removal. The combined secured funding currently provides a 39% local public and private cost-share of total project cost.
Q: It seems like a significant amount of work has gone into previous studies. Does the previous work help?
A: The previous studies and efforts are used to inform the current phase of design work, and the current design process benefits from much of the site information gathered during previous studies. The designs produced during previous work have been utilized to develop the feasibility of the options considered in the current project. The previous work is invaluable; without the information contained in these previous studies, the current project would require significant additional field work, modeling and analysis. Our current project team includes a few members with previous experience at the project site, further building on their project knowledge.
Q: I thought we got our water from Lake Whatcom. Why are we in the Middle Fork Nooksack River?
A: Lake Whatcom is the primary source of drinking water for the City. The Middle Fork diversion is periodically used to augment the water available from the Lake Whatcom watershed. The ability to divert water from the Middle Fork supports our coastal community by providing the City with a reliable supplemental water supply to meet the water demands of the City and portions of the County.
Q: What does this project entail?
A: The goal of the project is to provide fish passage while maintaining the City's ability to divert water from the Middle Fork.
Q: How much is it going to cost?
A: Estimated total project cost is approximately $13 million. The project has secured $680,000 for project design and permitting, and $4.4 million for implementation from Paul G. Allen Philanthropies and the City of Bellingham. Additional funding is being sought for the remaining $330,000 for design and permitting, and $7.6 million for implementation.
Q: Will this project take salmon recovery funds away from other priority projects?
A: As recovery funds are finite, all projects compete with other projects. This project is the highest ranked priority in the WRIA 1 Salmon Recovery Plan. We have identified a range of funding sources and are not planning to rely solely on salmon recovery funds.
Q: Are the tribes involved, or affected?
A: Lummi Nation, the Nooksack Indian Tribe and the Department of Fish and Wildlife are Fisheries Co-Managers for WRIA 1. All three entities are project partners and together with the City, signed a Memorandum of Agreement in 2002, pledging to collaborate to implement the project.
Q: What is the timeline?
A: Design and Permitting of the project is occurring now, and will continue through early 2019. Construction is anticipated for mid-2019, pending the authorization of all project permits, and the receipt of funding adequate to cover the expected construction costs.