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Lower Valley criticizes 205 project
CARNATION If the people who attended last week's
meeting concerning the Snoqualmie Flood Reduction Project had their
way, plans to excavate both banks of the river upstream of
the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Plant to reduce flooding in
the city of Snoqualmie would be scrapped.
The Jan. 10 meeting, organized by the King County
Water and Land Resources Division, was supposed to be a forum
for downstream residents to discuss possible mitigation options
concerning the project, which is scheduled to be completed
by September. County officials asked those attending the meeting
to take part in a straw poll and vote for what they thought were
the two best mitigation projects, such as elevating homes, creating
critter pads, gravel removal, upland development controls and
establishing fees from upland developments.
Instead, Lower Valley residents said they wanted to vote
yes or no on the overall plan, also known as the 205 project,
adding that without updated information from the Army Corps of
Engineers about the possible downstream impacts of the project, it was
difficult for them to vote on mitigation measures.
"I can't see any mitigation up there that's going to qualm
my fears and my concerns," said Stormy Hull, who lives on
Carnation Farms Road, to county officials.
The meeting was fourth in a series of meetings to discuss
the project. Two more are scheduled for next month. Army Corps
of Engineers officials will present new hydraulic data at a
meeting Feb. 14, and the county hopes to create a final mitigation
package at a meeting Feb. 28.
The 205 project calls for the excavation of 50,000 cubic
yards of rock and earth along the left and right banks of
the Snoqualmie River upstream of Puget Sound Energy's
hydroelectric plant, which would widen the river and increase the flow of
water through the city. It also involves shoreline
stabilization work along the right bank of the river, upstream of the State
Route 202 bridge, and removing what's left of a railroad bridge a
half-mile upstream of the SR 202 bridge.
According to engineers, the 205 project would result in a 1
1/2- to 2-foot reduction of floodwaters in Snoqualmie, saving
an average of more than $1 million in flood-related damages
each year. Impacts downstream, they say, would be negligible, with
the project adding a small amount of water to floodwaters, mostly in
the area from Tokul Creek to the Tolt River.
"We believe that we've had a pretty good indication that
the impacts would be less than an inch," said Tom Bean, a
senior engineer with the Rivers Section of the Water and Land
It's that inch that has Lower Valley residents concerned,
saying that an additional inch of water to the downstream
floodplain could be devastating, especially with the large number of farms
in the area. They said a mitigation plan must be in place before
any work on the project begins.
"Don't start building up there and then see what you can
do down here," one Lower Valley resident said at the meeting.
Paul Cooke, the Army Corps of Engineers' manager of the
205 project, presented a timeline for completing the work, with
construction beginning in July. He said several other steps must
be finished before a firm is contracted to start work, including
obtaining all the necessary permits, buying the land and getting
agreements between the county, the city of Snoqualmie and the
Dave Clark, manager of the Rivers Section of the Water
and Land Resources Department, said the agencies know they have a
lot to finalize in the next few months.
"We recognize there's lots of variables and lots of what-ifs
and we could get tripped up," he said.
"We're hoping to build this project this summer. That's
our goal. That's our objective."
But residents questioned why the time frame of the project
was so short and wondered whether it would be possible to delay
work until next year. Bean said politics is playing a role in the
process, adding that federal money has been appropriated for the
205 project twice, and it's unsure if the funds would be there again
"We're getting a lot of political pressure to move the
process forward," Bean told those attending the meeting. "There is a lot
of political weight behind this I'm just trying to do my job as
a staffer to stay ahead of the curve."
He added that if residents didn't like the project,
they should state their objections to Metropolitan King County
Council members, who will likely vote on the plan this spring.
Erick Haakenson, the owner of Jubilee Farm, which lies outside of
Carnation, said that might not be enough.
"We, as a group, may need to band together and seek out
legal remedies," he told the audience. "Frankly, I don't see the
county standing up for my rights in this case and I don't see them
standing up for your rights, either."
Snoqualmie Mayor Randy "Fuzzy" Fletcher attended
last week's meeting, and while he understands Lower Valley
residents' concerns since Snoqualmie residents are impacted by what
happens in North Bend, he said his city needs some sort of relief.
"I still have 600 homes up here that I'm trying to get out
of the water," he said last Friday.
Even though Lower Valley residents didn't vote on any
mitigation measures during last week's meeting, Bean said
the event wasn't organized in vain.
"We met in Carnation because we feel we need to talk to the
folks who don't like the overall project," he said. "I went into
it hoping that together we might iron out a plan that meets the
goals and objectives of the folks both above and below the Falls."
Bean added that instead of residents choosing
mitigation measures, it may be better for county officials to come up
with a plan and present it to residents, and that would also help the
205 project meet its summer deadline.
"We still have a schedule in front of us, and we still want
to maintain that schedule," he said.