Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion The proposed Seventh Street Storm Water Conveyance Structure would divert water into the natural beaver pond between Eider Drive and Kalifornsky Beach Road, shown here on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Kenai, Alaska.

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/ Peninsula Clarion The proposed Seventh Street Storm Water Conveyance Structure would divert water into the natural beaver pond between Eider Drive and Kalifornsky Beach Road, shown here on Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Kenai, Alaska.

Flood mitigation project under review

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Thursday, April 2, 2015 9:15pm
  • News

The fate of the proposed Seventh Street Storm Water Conveyance Structure is still under review.

Department of Natural Resources staff have not yet completed the temporary water use application authorization process for construction of the ditch, while organizers of the project say it is not clear if the permit is necessary to move forward.

“We want to make sure we don’t have unintended consequences,” said DNR Water Resources Section Chief Dave Schade. “That’s why we go through this process.”

If it is proven the ditch is not “moving the problem, but solving it,” Schade said he will issue authorization.

Schade said that under state statute, authorization is required through DNR because the project will be moving surface water. All water, both ground and surface, falls under the Alaska Water Use Act, and DNR is responsible for managing the usage of both, he said.

The application was submitted to DNR on March 3, Schade said. At this point in the process, which usually takes up to 60 days or more to complete, staff have not determined if the design is adequate to contain the necessary flow, even though the design is for more than 23 million gallons per day, he said.

“That is not an insignificant amount of water,” Schade said. “We want to make sure that it is not put into those houses at the end of the ditch.”

The K-Beach Flood Mitigation Project is heading the project. However, the organization has not yet achieved status as a legal entity, so the application had to be re-filed. The Flood Mitigation Project is currently functioning as a 501(c)(3) under the umbrella of Bridges Community Resources Network Inc.

Bridges Community Resources has no affiliation with the conveyance structure other than to provide the Flood Mitigation Project with an avenue to receive state or federal funding, said Bridges president Jane Stein. The only entity that is a point of knowledge or contact for the conveyance structure is the Flood Mitigation Project, she said.

Flood Mitigation Project president and CEO Kelly Lipinski said it is disputable whether a water use permit is required because the ditch will be diverting storm water, not standing or sitting water.

The project

The purpose of the ditch is to divert floodwater from Buoy Avenue to the beaver pond beside Eider Drive, along Kalifornsky Beach Road, Lipinski said. The goal is to alleviate flooding in the area around Buoy Avenue, she said.

The ditch will parallel the eastern side of a section line easement, Lipinski said. Because utility corridors are not recognized federally, the Bureau of Land Management will require a right-of-way permit to build through its property, she said.

“While the primary cause of the flooding is excess precipitation and snowmelt, a secondary cause is the general lack of an effective integrated drainage network in the flooded areas to drain water away,” said the hydrologist contracted for the project, Jim Munter.

The project is estimated to cost nearly $400,000 Lipinski said. Funding will come from a combination of federal and private sources, she said.

Permitting

Currently, the permitting process is moving past a comment period that included the option for public input, which closed Thursday.

As part of the “other agency review” portion of the temporary water use authorization, the application was sent to the Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Bureau of Land Management and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Schade said.

A second application was filed with the Donald E. Gilman River Center, which had a separate agency review process involving many of the same organizations.

The borough requested an extension of the review period to get public feedback. The reaction was mixed.

Resident Scott Mobley wrote that drainage in the Kalifornsky Beach area is overdue.

“The seventh street ditch would be a good first step” Mobley said.

John Emery Thibodeau, who lives on Eider Drive, said he was looking forward to construction of a ditch that would have the ability to move flood water away from his home.

The road on his property has been partially washed out in the past and he believes the conveyance structure will help productively divert surface water. He said both DNR and Lipinski have provided good assistance throughout the project.

Teresa Danielson, who lives at the Log Cabin Inn on Eider Drive, objected to the drainage system in a response to the borough’s inquiry for public comment.

“The new drainage will cut right into my property line on the west side, potentially causing major erosion and possibly raising my water table,” Danielson wrote, in response to the borough’s request for public comment.

In the borough’s recommendation to DNR, Mayor Mike Navarre said borough officials are unsure at this point if the ditch would not cause damage to property on Eider Drive. He also said a resident, whose property includes part of the section line easement the ditch would run along, had not been aware of the plans until Wednesday.

Lipinski said the mitigation project is willing to make any reasonable modifications the various agencies require.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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