MASTER INDEX TO 1979 LEVEE
IMPROVEMENT PROJECT RESEARCH
Researched, assembled and organized by: Josef and Larry Kunzler
Index prepared by Larry Kunzler, 2/25/2007
Skagit River Flood
Control – County Asks for More Than Offered
Skagit County officials asked for more flood control measures
than the Army Corp of Engineers has tentatively agreed to give them, during a
public hearing held by Corp officials here last night.
current project bearing the funding stamp of approval by Congress calls for
$15.6 million of improvements to Skagit
River levees, from the mouth to the
Burlington Northern railroad crossing, at the north boundary of Mount Vernon. The proposed levees would give an 11-year
flood protection, meaning the city and rural areas could expect protection
for a flood expected to occur every 11 years.
However, the project requested by county officials – termed
“Alternative No. 3” by the Corp – calls for the same improvements as
described previously, but also asks for protection from the larger 100 year
floods in the Mount Vernon and Burlington areas. The estimated cost of the project is $27 to
$53 million with a projected local share cost of $3 to $7 million. . . .
Larry Kunzler of Mount
Vernon asked if diking in the urban areas would
cause the water to back up and flood the farm areas. He was told by a Corp engineer that it
originally authorized to spend $15.6 million for 11 year protection.
of “new” project 27 to 53 million, local cost 3 to 7 million.
urban areas “might” back-up water into the Nookachamps. And so it began. My life has not been the same since that
one little comment.
the Skagit County Commissioners, on prompting by a citizen, authorized
creation of a telephone service by which county residents could call to get
flood information. The phone line
would serve as a early warning system, giving the reports by the weather
bureau of the expected flood level and reports of the rising river at
Concrete. If the Skagit River reaches
flood stage at Concrete, Mount
Vernon area residents have about 12 hours before
the flood reaches them. . . . The action by the commission follows the
appearance of High Hopes Hog Farm owner Larry Kunzler last week, who asked
that an early warning system be installed to let farm owners know well in
advance that a flood is coming, so they can move livestock to higher ground. . . .
Installation cost of all four phones was estimated at $115, with a $16
monthly flat rate. Cost of the four
tape recorders was estimated at $600.
Early Warning System
are done a lot differently now but this was the beginning of providing a
service to floodplain residents that had previously not been available.
County Commissioner Bud Norris,
currently the Mayor of Mt. Vernon was instrumental in implementing this
Flood control hearing Wednesday – Nookachamps
opposition to latest plan
area residents opposed to the latest Army Corps of Engineers proposals for Skagit River levee improvements promise they
will flood a public meeting scheduled Wednesday night by the Corps. . .
. When Congress deleted a clause which
could have allowed construction of a flood containment dam on the Sauk River
from legislation designating the Skagit as
part of the nation’s Wild and Scenic Rivers system, the valley’s best chance
at flood prevention went with it, according to Nookachamps dairy farmer and
county planning commission member Ken Johnson. Around 40 percent of the Skagit’s
floodwater comes from the Sauk, he stated.
. . . “Until about a month ago,
I thought we would get flood prevention,” Johnson
told the commissioners. “But our great
senator (Henry M. Jackson) has dropped the ball on the Sauk flood containment
dam. Now we have no choice but to play
catch-up.” . . . “We will take the water nature gives us but
we won’t take the water that other dikes would give us,” Johnson commented.
Johnson said although he
had opposed the Avon bypass in the past, he
now favors the plan. . . . Recent public meetings on the bypass plan
drew considerable opposition. County Public Works
Director Gene Sampley commented, “It’s my understanding the Corps got beat up
pretty bad on the Avon bypass.” “The cost of $70 to $90 million was what
worked against the bypass,” commissioner Bud Norris recalled.
. . But commissioner Bud Norris had
another view. “I can’t say that your
statements are too harsh, Larry,” Norris responded. “I don’t see how a person could stay calm
when he’s threatened with flooding.” “I
feel we owe it to you to reconsider and study the options to see if there
might be another alternative,” he added.
opposition, Sauk River Dam, Avon Bypass, Levees.
this point in time it was clear that higher levees meant additional flooding
in the Nookachamp/Sterling/Clear Lake area.
will take the water nature gives us but we won’t take the water that other
dikes would give us,”
from a personal perspective is that at the time this article was written I
supported the building of the Dam on the Sauk River. That’s because at the time, NO ONE,
including the Corps of Engineers ever mentioned that the Sauk River
drains the active volcano Glacier Peak.
of Avon Bypass was 70 to 90 million dollars.
Flood workshop told – Reinstatement of
Sauk dam is up to U.S. Congress
Skagit Valley residents want a flood containment dam on the Sauk River,
they’ll have to go back to Congress for a change in the Wild and Scenic River
legislation for the Skagit, officials from the Army Corps of Engineers said
here Wednesday night. . . . “Everyone here agrees that the Sauk dam is
the best answer,” Sterling area farmer Elinar Knutzen stated. “Have we given up on it since the
politicians sold us down the river?” .
. . That alternative calls for a ring
dike around the north side of Burlington and a weir structure between
Burlington and Sedro-Woolley, which would allow flood waters beyond a 50-year
level into the Samish River drainage area.
Floods of a 100-year frequency would be no worse for the Samish and
would keep backwater flooding in the Nookachamps-Clear Lake
area below that of other options. . .
. No matter which option the county
commissioners decide to pursue, the Nookachamps-Clear Lake
area will get more flood water, according to Cook. Even if the commissioners decide to do
nothing, flood waters would be deeper in the Nookachamps area, he said. Side effects of projects are called consequential damages, he
explained. As a general rule, consequentially damaged areas
are not compensated, he added. That
comment seemed to bring out the frustrations of the Nookachamps residents,
who asked repeatedly if they weren’t being asked to suffer the consequences
of 100-year protection for Mount Vernon and Burlington. . . .
Several of those who spoke asked that the county choose the Avon bypass option and begin a program of dredging at
the mouth of the river. . . . The Avon
bypass, authorized by Congress in 1936 and since relegated to “the back
burner”, is estimated to cost $80 to $90 million, with a local share of $15
to $20 million and annual maintenance costs of $150,000 to $200,000. That price tag has resulted in a less than
enthusiastic response in the past, Cook said.
The bypass would require widening of the river from the railroad
bridge above Mount Vernon to the beginning
of the Avon bend. From there, flood water would be carried
across the flats, across the route of State Highway 20 to Padilla Bay
at Telegraph Slough.
Dam, Alternative 3E Levee Improvements, Avon
Bypass CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES
would flood Samish
River in any event
above 50 year flows. Floodwater would
be deeper in the Nookachamps.
Consequential Damages became the battle cry of the people in opposition
to the project. Imagine how that sat
with the impacted communities. We are
going to take your tax money and flood your homes with it and by the way,
that’s just consequential damages.
By-Pass too expensive in 1979 at $80 to $90 million dollars. In 2003 it was projected to cost 300
Letter to the Editor: Skagit
River flood control
gets paid for dumping rock, same as the helicopters, pictures, maps and so
on. Realtors want more development to
make more and more money. Fishermen
want their fish, bird watchers want their eagles, power companies and
shareholders want more profits. We
could have all this without being too greedy.
. . . We were told by the power
company that every dam that was built in our valley was for flood control. . . .
I think there should be a group of people, besides the Corps of
Engineers and business men doing the planning for our valley’s flood control. The government needs more ideas. It takes all of the horses pulling together
to make a team.
letter to the editor. Appears to be
mostly based on emotion with little facts.
“It takes all of the horses pulling
together to make a team”.
Nookachamps, Clear Lake
– Corps to study flood control problem area
U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers will study the effects of proposed Skagit
River flood control measures on the
Nookachamps and Clear
Lake areas. Corps and Skagit County
officials said Tuesday. . . . Five levee improvement proposals offering
100-year flood protection to Mount Vernon
and Burlington and 50-year protection to rural
areas below Mount Vernon
are already under consideration. A
sixth alternative incorporating the Nookachamps study could include remedies
for the side effects of the overall project, according to Corps Project
Manager Vernon Cook. Mitigating
measures could include relocation of those buildings which would suffer the
most from higher water due to the higher dikes on the Skagit,
he said. Although recent legislation
favors non-structural flood control, relocation has never been used before,
he commented. Other measures for the
Nookachamps area might include a ring dike around the town of Clear Lake, higher mounds used to shelter livestock during
floods and extension of the Skagit dikes up
Nookachamps Creek. Diking of the Nookachamps is
the least likely measure, Cook stated.
The Avon bypass, authorized by
Congress in 1936, would face considerable opposition from farmers in its path
and from environmentalists, Col. Poteat stated. Requiring the construction of eight new
bridges, the bypass to Padilla
Bay would be very
Avon By-Pass, Sauk Dam
Diking of the Nookachamps is the
least likely measure, Cook stated.
By-Pass would be opposed by environmentalist and farmers and would be very
expensive. NOTE: In 2003 it was estimated to cost nearly 300
Levee improvements – Swift promises legislation
Al Swift (D-Bellingham) said he would introduce legislation authorizing an
expanding U.S. Army Corps of Engineers levee improvement project on the Skagit River if county officials give their
okay. . . . But Swift said he was unsure how the Skagit legislation would be received by Congress and by
the Carter administration. The White
House took a hard line against water projects in the last session, vetoing as
inflationary an appropriation bill containing $300,000 for work on the lower Skagit. Congress
later passed a scaled down version which included all of the Skagit funds. .
. . The Corps would ask for $18
million of the $55 million total for the levee improvement project from the
coming Congressional session. . .
. Other flood control alternatives,
including an Avon bypass and a flood containment dam on the Sauk River,
would require a delay in the entire project and may not be politically or
economically feasible, he stated.
Control Congressional Funding
of approval seemed slim.
Commissioners haven’t decided – Levee
project not funded
Money for the Skagit
River levee improvement
project was not included
in President Carter’s budget proposals for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
construction projects, an aide to Congressman Al Swift confirmed this
morning. . . . At the time the proposals were submitted,
the Skagit County Commissioners had not decided to go ahead with the flood
control project, Pettus explained. Skagit County Commissioners
have yet to decide if they want to go ahead with an expanded levee
improvement project suggested by the Corps.
The recommended option, costing an estimated $55.3 million, would
extend dikes upriver between Burlington and
Sedro-Woolley, giving 100-year flood protection for Burlington
and Mount Vernon and 50-year protection to
rural areas below Mount Vernon.
Control Congressional Funding
blamed County Commissioners for failure to make a
and Sedro-Woolley would mean all farmland between I-5 and Sedro-Woolley would
be able to be developed.
Letter to the Editor: Skagit
River flood control
Army engineers have a big expensive flood control plan for Skagit County,
but only for part of the county. If
you are unfortunate and live east of the pipe line in Sedro-Woolley, you get
none of this. We are secondary
citizens. We do not have the same
rights or protection as others in Skagit
County. It is like living on the wrong side of the
tracks. We cannot have protection for
our farms and our homes, because Washington,
D.C. has decided it wouldn’t be
scenic. Is it scenic to watch a flood
destroy our homes and farms? How
scenic are cattle drowning? Do you
think it would be scenic if it was your farm being destroyed? There is one place in Skagit County
where we are still equal, that is paying taxes, on land we can’t protect.
Residents Second Class Citizens
letter to the editor explains how a lot of people living from Sedro-Woolley
to Concrete to Darrington to Newhalem feel about flood control in Skagit County. Their concerns need to be addressed or
flood control in Skagit county will fail
Lower levee okay is expected today
final go-ahead on legislation for the expanded lower levee improvement project
is expected from Skagit
today. Commissioner Jerry Mansfield
said he will take a letter with him to Washington,
D.C. next week asking the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers to submit funding legislation for the levee
improvements. . . . Mount
Vernon reportedly had sought closer involvement by
elected officials with Corps of Engineers planning. Corps project manager Vernon Cook said
after the meeting that progress had been made to improve city-county-Corps
cooperation. Acknowledging that a
problem had existed, Cook commented, “Coordination is moving along now. Communication is improving all the
time. Things have changed in the last
two or three weeks.” Pointing out that
Mount Vernon would feel the greatest impact
of any Skagit County city, Cook explained Corps
plans for levees through the downtown area.
Much of Mayor Jack Miller’s concerns centered on Lions Park,
where the Corps plans to build a tilt-up flood wall, and on revetment
parking. Dick Swanson of the Corps
explained that the tilt-up flood wall would lie flat to the ground,
resembling a sidewalk, during normal river conditions. During high water, the wall could be tilted
upright to form a wall. In other areas
where Mount Vernon
fronts the river, a 12-foot stationary wall with gaps for access would
provide the 100-year protection the Corps foresees, Swanson said. The stationary wall is half as costly as
the tilt-up wall, he stated.
Levee Improvements, Mt. Vernon Floodwall and Levee
that some things never change.
Communication problems “existed” between the Corps and the County and Mt. Vernon.
would have been a “tilt-up” model along with a 12 ft. stationary wall.
Two chances for Skagit
for the proposed $55 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project could come
from either an omnibus public works bill or from separate legislation, Swift
staff member Drew Pettus said this morning.
. . . Under the proposed
project, the levee
system would be extended upriver from Mount Vernon
to Sedro-Woolley and levees below Mount
Vernon would be raised by 2 to 8 feet. An expanded Skagit
River project would provide 100-year
flood protection for Mount Vernon and Burlington and 50-year protection for rural areas below Mount Vernon, the
Corps claims. The present levee system provides 5 to 15-year
protection. . . . The original levee improvement project was
authorized by Congress in 1966. A
general design memorandum on the levee improvements is expected to be
released next month.
Control Congressional Funding
authorized in 1966. GDM ready in
1979. 13 years. Current study began in 1995. GDM ready in maybe 2013.
Swift enters Skagit
flood protection bill
to expand flood control and greatly reduce the risk of flooding in the Skagit River Basin was introduced today by
Congressman Al Swift. The measure
would extend protection upriver from Mount
Vernon to Sedro-Woolley. Levees below Mount Vernon would be raised. . . .
The Army Corps of Engineers told Swift the estimated cost of the
project would be about $38 million.
Earlier estimates have placed the total at $55 million. Swift said local officials, who have worked
closely in developing the project, would pick up part of the cost, to be
repaid to the federal government over a period of 50 years. “The local community is to be congratulated
for the excellent manner of coordinating its efforts and for working so
effectively with the Corps and the state congressional delegation,” the 2nd
district congressman said. . . . According to earlier estimates from the
Corps, the county share of the project would be $9.4 million, with $3 million
in road relocation, $3 million in acquisition of rights of way and $1.6
million for other costs, which could include relocation of boat ramps,
connecting dikes and flood gates.
Control Congressional Funding
of project “estimated” at 38 million down from 55 million.
“The local community is to be
congratulated for the excellent manner of coordinating its efforts and for
working so effectively with the Corps and the state congressional
delegation.” Haven’t seen that kind of
statement for awhile.
share would increase to 14 million by
the end of the year.
County must pay flood control
easements—Nookachamps residents form defense fund
county must acquire flowage easements from Nookachamps-Clear Lake
property owners before work on a proposed flood control project can begin, it
was announced Tuesday. . . . Cook told the group that no plan would
satisfy every county resident, but alternative 3E “seems to satisfy the most
wishes and looks most feasible.” This
alternative calls for a ring dike around the north side of Burlington and a
weir structure between Burlington and Sedro-Woolley, allowing flood waters
greater than a 50-year level into the Samish River drainage area. “To the Nookachamps-Clear Lake
area, this can only do one thing,” Cook acknowledged. “When you try to force the same amount of water through a smaller
opening, it goes up.” Anything
greater than a 25-year flood would add an estimated two feet of water to
whatever flooding the area would otherwise receive, he said. Studies by the Corps have not produced any structural measure with a
favorable cost-benefit ratio that would lessen the impact on this area,
Cook said. . . . Cook then announced the change in policy on
consequential damages. After
consultation with other corps officials, he learned the county will be
required to “make the property owners whole” if the project will reduce the
values of their property. “Somebody
has got to pay for the right to flood the land,” he said. “We can with some degree of certainty
predict what will happen if the project is built. The local sponsor must acquire the right to
do that.” . . . Any property owners who refuse to sign an
agreement would be taken to court by the county, which has “eminent domain”
over the whole area. A jury would then
determine a fair value for the land. Cook
estimated this would add $3 million to the local $10 million share of the $50
– Flowage Easements
would add 2 feet of water to any event greater then a 25 year event to the
Nookachamps. If the 1990 and 1995
flood events were 30 to 40 year events every resident would have had 2 feet
more water with the proposed project.
you try to force the same amount of water through a smaller opening, it goes
the above statement is true, and I think it is, wouldn’t this mean that the
SRIP proposal for levees in the Nookachamps would raise the floodwaters at
the Mt. Vernon
gage and upstream at Sedro-Woolley for lesser flood events?
Flood control -- Samish basin residents want more
the Midway House in Bow last night, residents told officials from the U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers they want more protection than would be provided by
the favored flood control proposal.
(Alternative 3e) Diagrams for this alternative show a ring dike around
north Burlington and a weir structure between Burlington and
Sedro-Woolley. This weir structure
would allow flood waters greater than the 50-year-level into the Samish River drainage area, which does not
sit well with residents of that area.
. . . But those at the meeting
indicated they preferred alternative
3C, which would run a solid dike between Burlington and Sedro-Woolley rather than a
weir, and provide 100-year protection to the Samish area. . . .
But the cost of alternative 3C is estimated at $93 million, giving it
a negative benefit-cost ration. This
would lessen its chances of authorization by Congress. Some concern was expressed about the
likelihood of development on farmlands if flood protection is increased. “In protecting the farm land, there’s a chance we’re going to lose
it,” one man said. County Commissioner
Bud Norris said the commissioners would attempt to protect agricultural
lands, but acknowledged “this board isn’t going to be around forever.” “We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t
think pressure would be extremely great (for development) once it gets
protection,” he said.
River Protection, Farmland Preservation, Weir, 100 yr levee at Sterling
residents didn’t like the idea that they were being asked to absorb Burlington’s
water. And therein lies one of the dilemmas
for any flood control project. Protect
the farmland from 100 year floods and you will lose the farmland.
County Commissioner Bud Norris said
the commissioners would attempt to protect agricultural lands, but
acknowledged “this board isn’t going to be around forever.” “We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t
think pressure would be extremely great (for development) once it gets
protection,” he said. No truer words have ever been spoken by now
Flood impact statement – Confirm
opponent’s fears of Nookachamps flooding and housing growth
draft environmental impact statement of the Skagit River
flood project substantiated two major concerns of opponents: the
possibilities of induced farm damage and development of farm land. . . .
The EIS was prepared by the Corps of Engineers to study the temporary
and long-term effects of the proposed levee improvement project. . . .
In all, 40,000
acres will receive 50-year flood protection and 11,800 acres will receive
100-year protection. . . . The EIS notes the possibility of increased flooding in the Nookachamps/Clear
Lake area, the right bank near Sedro-Woolley, the right bank at west Mount Vernon, and the Sterling Road area east of Burlington. At a 100-year flood level, the project would increase the
water level from zero to two feet over current conditions, depending
on the location, it says. To minimize
the effects on these areas, the corps studied several possible measures. The most feasible is the purchase of
flowage easements on property that might be adversely impacted, the EIS says.
from the project include:
Possible induced flood damages in four unleveed areas.
Pressure to develop farm lands provided with 100-year
The loss of
about 40 acres of deciduous forest and wetlands.
eight homes and 26 buildings (locations not specified).
Fine tuning – Reduced flooding impact
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has done some “fine tuning” to Skagit County’s
proposed flood control plan to an attempt to reduce the impact to the Clear
Lake/Nookachamps area. In addition,
the Corps has proposed eliminating the somewhat controversial weir structure. Cook presented the latest proposals to a
group of Clear Lake/Nookachamps residents last night. Those present, however, still weren’t
convinced they could live with the project.
In a vote following the meeting, 39 of 42 voted against the
project. No one voted in favor of it. . . .
The weir, a cement structure that acts as a metering device to allow a
controlled overflow of water, has been deleted from the latest plans. The weir was planned between Burlington and
Sedro-Woolley. In its place would be a
constricted opening bordered by rocks to prevent erosion. Toward the Samish area, pilings would be
inserted into the ground to control erosion.
These measures would accomplish the same purpose as the weir, Cook
said. . . . Although residents of the Clear Lake
community would now be protected by a levee, they chose to support farmers in
the outlying areas who still would be impacted. Residents of the unprotected areas did not
savor the idea of their homes being raised any higher. They also noted no flood protection is
available for their livestock.
Existing livestock mounds would be raised, but local farmer Larry
Kunzler said this would affect only one farmer. The Corps might have been able to sell its
plan if some protection for livestock was proposed, Kunzler said. . . .
project still must be authorized by Congress. Funds also must be appropriated by Congress
and raised locally, most likely through a countywide election to sell
bonds. This whole process could take
more than two years, county officials say.
Improvements Rejected by Nookachamps Clear Lake Community
39 of 42 people voted no to approve Corps new plan. Plan did away with weir between Burlington and Sedro-Woolley; put levee in front of Clear Lake;
raised homes in Nookachamps and Sterling. Plan would not have created new livestock
mounds for those that would have needed them.
still didn’t have Congressional authority for the project.
Clear Lake residents
work with county, Corps on flood levee
Clear Lake residents, who have
actively opposed proposed flood control measures for Skagit County,
are working with officials of the county and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
toward reconciliation. . . . They also want adequate protection to farms
and livestock outside the protected area, Austin said. “These (farms) are businesses the same as those in Mount
Vernon or Burlington,”
she said. “Other businesses are
getting protection, and these should be addressed in the same vein.” Farms that would be adversely impacted by
the flood control project should be examined individually to determine the
best solution for each, she said. The
group also wants impacted homeowners to have the option to stay in their
homes rather than relocate. . . . Commissioner Jerry Mansfield said he thinks
the county owes a firm commitment to these residents. Commissioner Bud Norris agreed, saying “Before
this gets much further, we should cement a commitment. “It’s imperative to do this because the
success of the project and its acceptance by the community depends on groups
such as yours that are closely involved with the project. It isn’t too much to ask us to approach
each business on an individual basis, and see what the impact will be.” . . .
The Corps now is proposing to extend a levee around Clear Lake,
which would give three-fourths of the residents 100-year flood level
protection. Homes outside the
protected area would either be raised above the flood plain or bought out,
depending on which is more economically feasible.
are businesses too.
County Commissioners promised to put in writing a commitment to carry
out mitigation measures.
legislation is promised
Warren Magnuson has announced that he and Senator Henry Jackson will
introduce legislation this month to authorize expansion of the Skagit River flood control project. . . .
similar to one already introduced in the House, would authorize expansion of the flood control project
to include Burlington
and Sedro-Woolley. . . . The commissioners had thought the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, which is designing the project, would give it full
support. Last month, however, they
learned the Corps could
not support Congressional authorization of the expanded project until a study
and review process was complete which could take two years.
Control Congressional Funding
did not support congressional action until study was done. Study process could take an additional two
Editorial – Hamilton property tax assessments questionable
is the case in Hamilton
this week where the town did just that.
And perhaps the protest has some merit. If you owned a lot and laws forbid you from
building on that lot, then certainly the value of your piece of property has
to be affected. If you own a home
which is damaged, and you are not allowed to rebuild, nor add new buildings
to your property, certainly the value of your property has to be affected. Floodways in Hamilton include most of the town. And as one property owner stated, a lot
which can’t be built on, was reassessed from $500 to $2,000. With building restrictions like this, it
seems questionable that this is a fair assessment to the property owner. Considering the “floodway” ruling, it is
not surprising that the entire town has protested the higher assessments.
Hamilton Tax Relief
Skagit flood meeting – Army Corps
to discuss flood control measures for county Tuesday
Col. John Poteat, district engineer for the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers Seattle District, and members of his staff will conduct
the meeting. Poteat will tentatively
recommend a plan for flood damage reduction and invite public comment. The plan will include structural and
non-structural flood damage reduction measures for the entire flood plain
downstream of Sedro-Woolley. . .
3E, as modified, would provide more than 500-year flood level protection
to 2,200 acres in Mount Vernon,
and 100-year protection for about 12,000 additional acres in urban
areas. It would also provide 50-year
flood level protection for about 39,000 acres of agricultural land. Improvements to the present flood
protection system would include raising and widening the levees, erecting
flood walls through Mount Vernon,
construction erosion control sills near Sterling Hill to prevent river
channel change, and relocating some county roads. . . .
The benefits would be offset by some disadvantages, however: Potential adverse impacts of the plan
include an increase in flood water levels in some areas, relocation of some
houses and buildings, pressure for development of farmland provided 100-year
flood protection, and temporary community disruption during construction. . . .
Flowage easements and/or floodproofing will be provided for the
Stokely warehouse and Moose Hall. Nookachamps Creek and South
Sedro-Woolley. Residences will be
raised above the flood plain if possible, otherwise relocated, purchased, or
compensated with flowage easements. Sterling.
Addition of a levee along the west side of District Line Road to
provide 100-year protection for United General Hospital and other structures
northeast of the road. Clear Lake.
Addition of a levee west of Highway 9 and across the East Fork
Nookachamps Creek to provide 100-year flood protection to Clear Lake. The levee would parallel Mud Lake Road, run along the railroad
and Highway 9, and cut across Francis
Road through farmland for about 1,800 feet. A 150-foot segment of Mud Lake Road would be raised to
provide an access ramp over the road. West Burlington.
The levee from Burlington
to Bayview Ridge was relocated to Johnson
Road at the request of property owners and the
local sponsor to lessen impacts to farmland.
Impacts to property owners due to levee construction will be reduced
by this levee alignment revision. An
additional 500 acres will be provided 100-year flood protection. Sterling.
The weir structure has been eliminated as a result of further engineering
and economic studies. These revealed
that a more effective method of maintaining 50-year protection to the Samish Valley would be through buried erosion
control sills. This sill will prevent
the Skagit River channel from eventual relocation
around Sterling Hill. As a result of
this modification, the levee from Sterling Hill to Burlington Hill was
The Plan –
of plan 3E is estimated at $55 million, with $10 million from local
sources. The local share is expected
to be less, however, because the county already has several necessary
plan still must receive Congressional authorization and funding before it can
Cook Road farmers oppose levee plan
a meeting with the Skagit County Commissioners and the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, about 30 residents of the Cook Road area and Samish basin
indicated they were not satisfied with alternative 3E, the flood control plan
that the Corps considers most feasible for the county. . . .
Although the project would increase protection to that area from 40 to
50-year level floods, the farmers felt their area would be the first to
receive flood waters and wanted
to know how they would be compensated for any damages. As proposed, alternative 3E, with a series
of rural and urban levee improvements, would give 50-year flood level
protection to the rural areas downstream of Mount Vernon and in the Cook Road area. Burlington,
west Mount Vernon and Avon would receive
100-year protection, with urban Mount
Vernon receiving 500-year protection. . . .
Several said their
tax dollars would be used for a project that would give protection to most
the county, but not this area.
Commissioner Howard Miller reminded them they would be receiving
50-year protection like most the other farming areas. . . .
Some of those present favored alternative 3D, which would run a levee from Sterling to Sedro-Woolley. But Brooks said this had no chance of
obtaining Congressional authorization because of its poor cost-benefit ratio. This alternative would give farmland in the Samish Valley 100-year protection, increasing
pressure to develop, he said.
In addition, it would
send more water into the Nookachamps area, which already will be
adversely affected by the proposed project.
And it would require raising several bridges. The Sauk River containment structure and
dredging were brought up again, and Brooks again explained why they
are not considered possible alternatives.
. . . Dredging also is not feasible because of the
high cost of maintenance, Brooks said.
The channel would have to be dredged every year or two, and could have
detrimental effects on the environment.
In a show of hands, most
indicated they preferred no flood control project to 3E, contrary to a
vote taken at a meeting in Allen in April when most voted for some sort of
flood control project rather than nothing.
Opposition, Sauk River Dam, Dredging, 100 yr Levee Between
Sedro-Woolley and Burlington
road and Samish farmers would be forced to receive Burlington floodwaters on a more regular
basis. Very legitimate argument that
their tax dollars would be used to flood their properties.
levee would increase development pressure on farmland and raise floodwaters
in the Nookachamps.
residents preferred no flood control vs. the Corps project. And that’s what they ended up getting.
Commissioner Bud Norris told the
group he understood their concerns, and will discuss them further with the
Realtors claim floodway may hurt
floodway designation here should definitely affect property values, according
to two local attorneys and two realtors.
Despite this fact, sales are taking place without the buyer’s, and
often without the seller’s knowledge that the property is in the floodway. . . .
Hamilton city council requested in May
that all property in Hamilton
be reevaluated because they believed severe building restrictions that
accompany the floodway designation lowered property values. Although Hamilton
has been designated as floodway since 1972, council members learned of the
floodway designation in May. .
. . George Campeau, a realtor with
Bi-Century Homes, said that realtors are obligated to inform a prospective
seller of the floodway designation. “Sometimes
we don’t know for a fact because the Corps of Engineers is changing their
areas all the time. But a floodway
designation has a bearing on the value of a home, and if we know, we’d be
obligated to tell. Of course if you
don’t know you’re not obligated to dig it up.
If the seller knows, that’s something he should let us know about,”
Campeau said. . . . Bill Nielson, a Mount Vernon attorney, said it’s a “real
good question” whether a sale would be valid if neither the buyer or the
seller knew of the floodway designation.
Nielson, a former chief civil deputy for Skagit County
who dealt with changes in housing ordinances and with the effect of the
floodway designation on zoning. “I
guess a buyer could back out if not too long a time has gone by since the
purchase. I’m sure the floodway
designation would have some effect on property value. But whether or not it would relieve the
buyer of the obligation is hard to say,” Nielson commented. Gary Jones, another Mount Vernon attorney, called the floodway
designation “a very significant incident of ownership”. “The buyer would want to know, and it’s the
seller’s duty to disclose it. But the
liability on it is a fuzzy area…appeals (to the Board of Equalization) might
have some merit. Property in the
floodway is less valuable because of the restrictions on building.” . . .
Paul Shelver, Skagit
administrator, said it is the responsibility of the buyer to find out
beforehand if the property being sold is in the floodway. “Anybody who comes into the county planning
department gets an answer. You can’t
force people to ask questions. What I
have of floodway maps is public information,” he said. Shelver said no public hearing was necessary before the designation
went into effect because the county is enforcing federal regulations and he
said no press releases were issued on the floodway designation because “many
things that occur in government come out in steps. And many things that would be noteworthy
wouldn’t be written right by the newspapers.”
Horn and Hamilton
are the two major residential areas in the floodway, said Shelver, but there
are residences in other areas.
county, through court action, has had to become more restrictive in enforcing
floodway regulations since January of 1976, said Shelver.
“If anything, we’re not being as
restrictive as we should be,” he said.
County’s $14 million levee share—Flood
control financing plan goes on ballot
$14 million excess levy proposition to finance the county’s portion of the
River flood control
project will be placed on the November general election ballot. A resolution placing the proposition on the
ballot was approved by the Skagit County Commissioners Wednesday. The commissioners said they recognize the
need for a flood control project, but because of state-mandated limitations
on revenue, they are unable to fund the local share from existing revenue. . . .
“It appears that the only way we’ll be able to meet our portion of the
project is through an excess levy,” Commissioner Bud Norris said. Norris added, “Any time the county expends that large a sum of the
public’s money, it’s a good idea to go to the public with a vote.”
Improvement Project On The Ballot
added, “Any time the county expends that large a sum of the public’s money,
it’s a good idea to go to the public with a vote.”
has to wonder if the current Mayor of Mt. Vernon feels the same way today.
Proposed levee on Skagit River.
. . brings variety of opinions
residents will decide Nov. 6 whether they want to pay for the county’s
portion of the $55 million Skagit
River levee project. The project, to be paid for primarily by
the federal government, is designed to provide 50- to 100-year flood
protection in the Skagit Valley, and 500-year protection to Mount Vernon, said Don
Nelson, director of flood control for the county’s Public Works Department. Nelson said the county’s portion of the
project is about $14 million. “We have
about half of that under our belt,” he said, adding that the county already
owns land and rights-of-way for the proposed levee improvements. Property taxes would be increased if voters
approve the levee measure, Nelson said.
“Different rates could be established for residents who would obtain
more benefit from the levee project,” he added. “It will be resolved prior to elections.” . . .
Levee construction will be completed about 1984 if the appropriations
bill is approved and Skagit
County residents agree
to pay for the county’s share. Nelson
said the proposed levee protection will begin west of Sedro-Woolley on the
north side of the Skagit
River and continue
downstream along the north fork of the river.
. . . The Nookachamps area will act as a natural
drainage basin, Nelson said.
And the county will provide flood protection in that area by raising
houses and by building a levee around the city of Clear Lake. Most residents, however, agree that some
flood protection is needed. A series
of serious floods have occurred over the past 70 years. They include:
1909, -a 90- to
1917, -a 75- to
80- year flood;
1921, -a 80- to
90- year flood;
Improvement Project – How we are going to pay for it.
Cost 14 million. Already have about 7
million. Property taxes to be raised
to pay for the rest. Different rates
for different benefits. So lower
valley urban areas would pay more then Hamilton
area residents or people living on the hills?
Is this how the current proposal for the Countywide Flood Control
District would work?
is nothing “natural” about the drainage basin in the Nookachamps. The current levees system in the 1990 and
1995 flood events stored an additional 4 feet at Francis Road to 2.5 feet in Sterling to .5 feet at
the Sedro-Woolley sewage treatment plant.
That is anything but natural.
figures listed were provided to the Skagit Valley Herald by the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers Seattle District.
Proposed levee on Skagit River.
. . brings variety of opinions
Johnsons own a dairy farm in the
Nookachamps, a flood plain cut by the Skagit River about 10 miles northeast
of Mount Vernon. Their 64-year-old house never
has had water in it. But a $55
million levee project to protect Skagit
Valley residents from
floods will add more water to their fields and disrupt their lives. . . .
residents will be able to walk on dry ground.
. . . Skagit
County administrators say the
53-mile stretch of levees will provide 50- to 100-year flood protection to
the Skagit Valley
and 500-year protection to Mount
Vernon. . .
. The project will not proceed unless Skagit County
voters are willing to pay the county’s portion of the estimated cost. A proposition for a levee tax will be on
the November ballot. . . . “I don’t think it’s going to go through,”
said Dave Parker, owner of a grocery store in Clear Lake. “It’s not fair for the tax payer in Anacortes.” . . .
Orville Branson, a salesman for Lundquist Realty in Burlington, said he needed more information
before he could vote. He also
represented an attitude reflected by numerous residents – he said he didn’t want county
residents to benefit from the project at the expense of others. “If we’re thinking about ourselves we’d be
all right,” he said. “But the county needs to protect
the whole valley. If they can provide
protection, then it’s all right.”
. . . But one resident whose West Mount Vernon home along the river has sat in 4
feet of water was skeptical about any flood protection project. “They’ve been talking about it so long,” said Andy Lilja, who
will be forced to move if the project proceeds. “It doesn’t matter to me.”
against Flood Control Project
“It’s not fair for the tax payer in
he didn’t want county residents to
benefit from the project at the expense of others.
the county needs to protect the whole
valley. If they can provide
protection, then it’s all right.”
They’ve been talking about it so
Pro Proposition 2 Ad for Flood Control
these ads pretty much sum up the for/against arguments concerning the flood
Against Proposition 2 Ad
Editorial – Yes on flood control
. . The Skagit has a history of severe
flooding and the Skagit River Levee Improvement Project, backed on the
November ballot by Citizens for Flood Control, is the last viable means of
flood protection for the Skagit
Valley. The Avon Bypass has been jeered out of all practical existence. It is highly doubtful if any more dams will be allowed to be
built, especially with major portions of the Skagit
and its tributaries included in the federal Wild and Scenic Rivers system. In this century alone, the Skagit
River has flooded the
Lower Valley 16 times. This is
an average major flood about once every five and a half years. In the years of 1906, 1909, 1917 and 1921, all within the
lifetime of many residents, the mighty Skagit has approached
floods of 100-year frequency – a term applied to about 200,000 cubic feet per
second. Floods of this
magnitude have catastrophic effect, wreaking tremendous damage on Skagit County and resulting in large scale
loss of property and probably loss of life.
. . . It should be pointed out,
too, that the urban
areas of Skagit
County, if this
proposition is passed, will
be relieved of the burden of flood plain insurance, the annual cost of
which now exceeds the proposed bond assessment.
Board Endorses Project
Bypass dead. No more dams.
Lower Valley flooded 16 times in 79 years. 4 of those flood events were estimated by
Mr. Stewart. History shows us that
levees busted or overtopped around 32 foot elevation. All of these events were before we had the
levee system we have in 2007 and before storage was achieved behind the dams
we currently have in place. Excluding
the 4 Stewart estimates, current levee system and dam storage could have held
back the flood waters in each of those events. Justification: In 2003, unregulated would have carried
202,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley. Far
greater then any of the other 12 flood events.
Letter to the Editor: Flood control: our last chance to head off
. . This project is the culmination of the efforts of Skagit County people
knowledgeable about and responsible for the flood protection of our community
including the county commissioners, county engineers, and the local dike
district commissioners who have historically been charged with maintenance of
our protection system. We simply do not have the capacity in
our diking system to take care of any more flood waters than we had in the
recent December of 1975 flood, and we know from past floods that we must prepare for water in many
places at least three feet higher on our dikes. Federal and state authorities recognize the
seriousness of the threat. In the
words of one agency, “Skagit County is a disaster waiting to
and Mount Vernon,
which will receive 100-year flood frequency protection, will get permanent
protection, lower insurance rates, lower building costs and protection for
their growing business and residential areas.
. . . We your neighbors, the
Dike Commissioners of Skagit County earnestly ask your support and a vote FOR
PROPOSITION 2, the Flood Control Bonds.
Skagit County – The Disaster Waiting To Happen
system could not take any more water then they had in 1975. They had to prepare for water “in many
places” three feet
higher on the dikes.
figures mentioned by Mr. Walker are very interesting. In 1975 the Mt.
Vernon gage reportedly read 130,000
cfs 35.66. In 1990 152,000 cfs 37.37
and in 2003 129,000 cfs (<1975) 36.19 (>1975).
Walker was the Dike District Commissioner for Dike District 12.
Decisive defeat at polls –Flood
control future unclear
2, a $14 million bond issue to finance the local share of the project, was
soundly defeated by a
71.4% “no” vote. That
percentage was generally consistent throughout the county, including Mount Vernon and Burlington,
areas described as having the most to gain from the project. Mount Vernon,
which would receive protection from floods with a 1-in-500-year chance of
against the project by a 68.3 percent vote. And although Burlington
would receive 100-year flood level protection from the project, voters there rejected the proposition by a
65.9 percent vote. . . . Magnuson aide Duane Trekker said the
Senator “wants to have a look at the entire matter again” before he continues
to push for congressional authorization.
“When the local
people speak at the polls, he (Magnuson) certainly does not want to ram something
down their throats,” Trekker said.
. . . Bud Norris, chairman of the Skagit County
Board of Commissioners, said today the county would have to take a second
look at the plan and examine alternatives.
He said he is
hesitant to push the present plan further because of the overwhelming
mandate. “We’ll have to reassess our
flood control philosophy and talk with a lot of people involved in the
formulation of the plan to see where to go from here,” he said. “The idea of flood protection for the Skagit Valley will not be dropped,” he added. “We’ll continue to work at some type of
plan that would be more acceptable to a greater percent of the population
than this plan (3E).”
Voters Say No to Flood Control; Flood Plain Management Recommendations
of the voters said no to flood control.
Burlington and Mt.
Vernon voted against the project by
over 65% in both communities. Will the
powers that be allow the voters to vote again on any flood control project or
will they “ram something down their throats”?
Norris “…is hesitant to
push the present plan further because of the overwhelming mandate. “We’ll have to reassess our flood control
philosophy and talk with a lot of people involved in the formulation of the
plan to see where to go from here,” he said
Flood experts eye new measures
with voter rejection of a flood control project for Skagit County,
officials might now turn to “non-structural” measures to guard against flood
damages. “The only thing that will get
support (for flood control) is if we have a major flood,” Miller said. . . .
Vernon Cook, project manager for the Corps of Engineers, said a flood
damage reduction plan might be the best approach now. This could include prohibiting construction in the flood plain,
requiring flood plain insurance, removing some levees, and purchasing
property in flood areas for conversion to recreational use. These “non-structural” measures, he
explained, would reduce the damages that would occur during a flood, as
opposed to preventing a flood.
construction in the flood plain, requiring flood plain insurance, removing
some levees, and purchasing property in flood areas for conversion to