August 17, 1998
Development could hurt aquifer, engineers say
by Lisa Allen
Valley View Editor
DUVALL--More study is needed to determine the effects the Miller's Homestead development could have on an underlying aquifer, a hydrology expert told the City Council last week.
Dan Matlock, a hydrologist with Pacific Groundwater Group, was hired by Lou and Carroll Whipple who live adjacent to and downhill from the proposed 73-home development.
The Whipples, after moving on their five-acre piece at the end of Kennedy Drive 31 years ago, created several trout ponds that are fed by the shallow aquifer.
Concerned that large-scale development could endanger their ponds and the fish, the Whipples appealed a mitigated determination of non-significance (MDNS) issued for the preliminary plat by the city. In their appeal, they are requesting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be required for the plat.
During the SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) appeal hearing (a first for the city) at last week's regular council meeting, Matlock told the council that 75 percent of water supplying the aquifer comes from the Miller's Homestead area.
"Impervious surfaces, such as roads and roofs, will dramatically reduce the amount of recharging of water into the soil," he said. "It could cause reduced spring activity with drying out of some springs with the effect of having stagnant water. There has not been any consideration given to the loss of recharge."
Matlock said other concerns include possible contamination of the aquifer with pesticides and fertilizer and recommended that the proponents of the development be required to do a more significant analysis of the aquifer with monitoring of wells.
Carroll Whipple told the council she was concerned over the possibility of silting and mud runoff.
"The retaining pond liners may leak, resulting in contamination," she said. "The area has been prone to caving and sliding. We need a 100-foot buffer and all of the mitigation measures should be in place before construction."
The Whipples say they are also are concerned over traffic and want studies on the possible impacts to Coe-Clemmons Creek and local schools.
The Whipples' attorney, Richard Aramburu, said his clients have an "extraordinary piece of property, and that the possible adverse effects of the development should require an EIS."
Aramburu also raised the issue of water rights.
"The Whipples have vested property rights to continue water use that were secured from the Department of Ecology in 1969," he said. "Those can't be interfered with...if they are, then it becomes a taking of a valuable right."
The proposed plat fronts on Miller Street. Residents there have also filed an appeal.
At the appeal hearing, Stephanie Zimmer read a lengthy report from a hydrologist hired by the Miller Street residents, that also noted drainage and runoff problems could result with insufficient mitigation.
In their appeal, the Miller Street residents request an independent erosion control inspector on site during construction, earthquake impact study, that a seven-year bond be required to cover claims of damage, a one-year study of the aquifer, a 100-foot buffer and studies of possible imacts of tree removal, among others.
Don Scarberry of Novodyne Engineering, who represents developers Neal Coy and Paul Konrady, told the council he had listened to the issues that cause concern.
"I take exception to most of the items," he said. "We have done extensive studies. Quite frankly, this has been the most scrutinized project I have ever worked on. Our studies indicate that water would not be impacted and we have data collected that will support our position."
The appeal hearing was then requested to be continued by the proponents' attorney, Jim McBride, who said his side needed more time to study the engineering reports, which he had not seen in advance of the hearing.
Mayor Glen Kuntz agreed and set a time for the council to walk through all the properties involved. The field trip will be on Aug. 20, with the public hearing continued to the regular Aug. 27 council meeting.