Can an industrial water main from Lake Whatcom to the waterfront be used to run a hydro-electric turbine to generate electricity and some income for the city? The city is looking to spend $200,000 for a study to find out.
Georgia-Pacific Corp used a 48-inch water main to use up to 70 million gallons of untreated lake water per day at the waterfront pulp and tissue mill – more than three times what the entire city uses on a typical summer day.
The pipeline is still in use providing a small amount of water to Puget Sound Energy’s gas-fired power plant off Cornwall Avenue, but it is only a fraction of its capacity.
The output from the proposed turbine could be sold for an estimated $600,000 per year and probably wouldn’t operate in the summer, when the city would divert water from the middle fork of the Nooksack River to keep the turbine spinning without drawing down too much on the lake.
Another potential benefit from the plant is better management of Whatcom Creek.
The proposed plans envision a power plant on a city-owned site at Bay and Chestnut streets, near the end of the pipeline.
Read more in the Bellingham Herald