Northwest NEWS

April 3, 2000

Front Page

Residents: Not one more inch of high water

by Lisa Allen, Valley View editor

   CARNATION--An Army Corps of Engineers proposal designed to lessen the severity of flooding in Snoqualmie, but which would also cause floodwaters to be slightly higher in the area below the Falls, drew some criticism from Lower Valley residents last week.

   At a meeting with county officials in Carnation, residents were told the proposed project is expected to reduce flood depths in the Snoqualmie area by as much as two feet, but also cause flooding to increase in the Lower Valley by as much as an inch in a 100-year flood event.

   The Snoqualmie Flood Control Project was proposed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is sponsored by King County and the city of Snoqualmie. The project includes about 1,000 feet of riverbank excavation in the channel above Snoqualmie Falls. With the project, county officials hope to reduce the average $1 million in damage that is caused yearly by flooding in the town of Snoqualmie.

   The proposal consists of the following:

   Rivers Section Senior Engineer Tom Bean said the current schedule has the plans to completed by September 2000 and construction to start June 2001.

   Dave Clark, river manager with King County Water and Land Resources, told residents that the purpose of the meeting was to find ways to mitigate the effects of the project on the downstream area. "We will work on the mitigation ideas that are most appropriate," he said. "If we can reach a consensus those ideas will go into the Corps report on the project."

   Impacts of the higher flood depths are expected to be greatest in the area between Fall City and Carnation, Clark said, but he assured those living in those areas that depths would be less than the expected one inch during more frequent winter flooding.

   But it was that inch that residents said they are worried about.

   Fall City farmer Erick Haakenson said that water came within 1/2 inch of getting in his house in 1998. "A few inches can make a lot of difference," he said.

   Ian Macrae, who owns a farm near Fall City, agreed. "I have marks on my barn where one inch made a difference on whether or not the hay got wet," he said. "It would be beneficial if the government paid to raise buildings up."

   Carnation dairy farmer Steve Foster told officials that he has high ground for his animals, but that a big flood can have lasting impacts. "It can take two years to recover lost milk production," he said. "I don't want any more water."

   Earlier meetings regarding proposed mitigation measures resulted in a mix of ideas that were also discussed. Among them were flood map revisions, public education on flood risks, river dredging, levee removal, home buyouts, residential elevations, critter pads, upland development controls, and fees from development.

   Snoqualmie Mayor Fuzzy Fletcher said the project was first conceived about 30 years ago. "We understand what downstream is all about. We are downstream from North Bend. We want to see what can be done to mitigate the impacts of this proposal."