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May 2008

EDITORIAL

Before I begin this month’s editorial which is really nothing more then the interview form I was given by a consultant to Skagit County for the purpose of updating their Comprehensive Flood Hazard Management Plan, I want to open with a few personal remarks.  Recently I was appointed by the Skagit County Commissioners as an “at large” member of the recently formed Skagit County Flood Control Zone District Advisory Committee.  I am deeply honored to be appointed to this committee and look forward to serving the people of Skagit County in this capacity.  As I have stated in a previous editorial (See Angry Citizen November 2006) I no longer live in the Skagit River floodplain and haven’t since 1983.  I don’t own any property in the floodplain.  I’m not a member of any development or environmental group.  I don’t stand to make any money or lose any money by anything that happens on the Skagit River floodplain.  I have never been paid for any of my 30-year involvement although I have been offered money for my work.  My entire involvement has been motivated solely in search of the truth about the Skagit River floods and their history.  I am a firm believer that all of us owe a commitment to give something back to our communities.  Some people become little league baseball coaches; others work for civic organizations or food banks and help the less fortunate.  Providing information to the public on what I consider to be the most important issue facing the residents of Skagit County is my way of providing public service.  It’s what I do and I am proud of that service.  Therefore, in that vein, I will serve the people of Skagit County by serving on the FCZD committee. What follows below is the interview questionnaire given to all members of the FCZD as well as many other members of the general public as well as my responses to those questions.  Enjoy.  Feel free to agree or disagree with any position I take, and as always I invite your thoughts and comments.

 INTERVIEW FOR THE SKAGIT CFHMP

 Interview Questions

  1. Background

a.       Please describe your position/role/involvement/interest in this topic.

I have been involved with the Skagit River flood issue since the 1975 flood, in which the farm I purchased on April Fools Day of that year flooded with 4 feet of water on it.  Since that time I have served on the Skagit River Flood Control Advisory Committee, the State Department of Ecology Floodplain Management Advisory Committee, the Washington State Legislative Joint Select Committee on Flood Damage Reduction, as an advisor to the Skagit River Impact Partnership, an attendee of Skagit FACT meetings and most recently appointed to the Skagit County Flood Control Zone District Advisory Committee.  I run a web page devoted to the history and current events of the Skagit River flood issue at www.skagitriverhistory.com.

 b.      Is your contact information correct?

My contact information is:

Larry Kunzler

Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Phone:  Unlisted

larry@skagitriverhistory.com (web page)

c.       Please describe your understanding of what this project is and intends to accomplish. 

This project (the CFHMP) is to update the current and woefully inadequate Skagit County plan using the following criteria as required by RCW 86.26.105 and WAC 173-45:

(1) Determination of the need for flood control work.

     (a) Description of the watershed;

     (b) Identification of types of watershed flood problems;

     (c) Location and identification of specific problem areas;

     (d) Description of flood damage history;

     (e) Description of potential flood damages;

     (f) Short-term and long-term goals and objectives for the planning area;

     (g) Description of rules that apply within the watershed including, but not limited to, local shoreline management master programs, and zoning, subdivision, and flood hazard ordinances;

     (h) Determination that the instream flood control work is consistent with applicable policies and rules.

     (2) Alternative flood control work.

     (a) Description of potential measures of instream flood control work;

     (b) Description of alternatives to instream flood control work.

     (3) Identification and consideration of potential impacts of instream flood control work on the following instream uses and resources.

     (a) Fish resources;

     (b) Wildlife resources;

     (c) Scenic, aesthetic, and historic resources;

     (d) Navigation;

     (e) Water quality;

     (f) Hydrology;

     (g) Existing recreation;

     (h) Other impacts.

     (4) Area of coverage for the comprehensive plan shall include, as a minimum, the area of the one-hundred-year frequency flood plain within a reach of the watershed of sufficient length to ensure that a comprehensive evaluation can be made of the flood problems for a specific reach of the watershed. The plan may or may not include an entire watershed. Comprehensive plans shall also include flood hazard areas not subject to riverine flooding such as areas subject to coastal flooding, flash flooding, or flooding from inadequate drainage. Either the meander belt or floodway must be identified on aerial photographs or maps that will be included with the plan.

     (5) Conclusion and proposed solution(s). The CFCMP must be finalized by the following action from the appropriate local authority:

     (a) Evaluation of problems and needs;

     (b) Evaluation of alternative solutions;

     (c) Recommended corrective action with proposed impact resolution measures for resource losses; and

     (d) Corrective action priority.

     (6) A certification from the state department of community, trade, and economic development that the local emergency management organization is administering an acceptable comprehensive emergency operations plan.

d.      Please let us know if there are any specific areas, information, education, data that you feel you need to be an effective participant in this effort.

Things that come to mind are copies of all land use permits that required landfill to see how they complied with SEPA, SMA, and the NFIP and what kind of hydraulic analysis was performed to ensure that the cumulative impact of the developments in the floodplain have not raised the floodwaters more then one foot at any given point in the floodplain.  This would include all permits issued for commercial, residential, and to the dike districts. 

e.       Are there any specific studies, data, information that you know exists that should be made available to participants or used in developing this plan?

Yes.  Here are a few:

SKAGIT RIVER REPORTS/STUDIES/DOCUMENTS

ON FLOODING AND FLOOD PROJECTS

 

As Compiled by Larry J. Kunzler 1/24/99 in cooperation with the Corps of Engineers, Seattle District and as appended May 23, 2008

REPORT #

DATE

                                          TITLE

1.     

11/8/1890 PE

12/4/1890 HD

NOOKSACK, SKAGIT AND SNOHOMISH RIVERS, Preliminary Examination (PE) by Captain Symons, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #38, 51st Congress, 2nd Session}

2.     

12/11/1897 S

1/8/1898 HD

SURVEY OF SKAGIT RIVER FROM ITS MOUTH TO SEDRO, WASH.,  Survey (S) by Capt. Harry Taylor, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #204, 55th Congress,2nd Session}

3.     

11/5/10 PE

2/29/12 S

8/15/12 HD

SKAGIT RIVER, WASH., FROM SEDRO WOOLLEY TO BAKER, PE by Capt. Authur Williams, Corps of Engineers,  S by Major J.B. Cavanaugh, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #909, 62nd Congress, 2nd Session}

4.     

12/6/12 PE

1/26/14 S

4/30/14 HD

SKAGIT RIVER, WASH.,  PE by Major J. B. Cavanaugh, Corps of Engineers, S by same  {published as House Document #935, 63rd Congress, 2nd Session}

5.     

1915

PROFILE SURVEYS IN 1915 IN SKAGIT RIVER BASIN, U.S.G.S. Water Supply Paper 419, W.H. Herron, Acting Chief Geographer

6.     

7/1/18

SKAGIT RIVER FLOOD REPORT, by James E. Stewart, Hydraulic Engineer, U.S.G.S., Tacoma, Washington

[Retyped version here]

7.     

8/12/18

APPENDIX TO SKAGIT RIVER FLOOD REPORT, by James E. Stewart, Hydraulic Engineer, U.S.G.S., Tacoma, Washington

8.     

10/10/19 RE

1/12/20 HD

SKAGIT RIVER, WASH.,  Reexamination (RE) of House Document #935 by Lt. Col. J.A. Woodruff, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #591, 66th Congress, 2nd Session}

9.     

8/26/22

PROPOSED FLOOD CONTROL SKAGIT RIVER, by Robert Herzog, Great Northern Railway Company

10.  

10/23

STAGE AND VOLUME OF PAST FLOODS IN SKAGIT VALLEY AND ADVISABLE PROTECTIVE MEASURES PRIOR TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF PERMANENT FLOOD CONTROLLING WORKS, by James E. Stewart, Hydraulic Engineer, U.S.G.S., Tacoma, Washington

11.  

1/31/25 PE

12/12/25 HD

SKAGIT RIVER, WASH., PE by Col. W.J. Barden, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #125, 69th Congress, 1st Session}

12.  

2/8/28 PE

5/19/28 HD

SKAGIT RIVER, WASH., PE by Major Jno. S. Butler, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #311, 70th Congress, 1st Session}

13.  

5/18/28

MEMORANDUM on COMPREHENSIVE SURVEY—CONFERENCE WITH MR. PARKER re potential dam sites in the Skagit Basin and river gages throughout the Northwest, author unknown

14.  

1929

Selected pages of USGS 1929 Water Supply Paper

15.  

3/17/32

SKAGIT RIVER FLOOD CONTROL RIVER ENLARGEMENT AND DIKES, by Charles B. Smith

16.     

5/18/32

SKAGIT RIVER, WASH., A GENERAL PLAN FOR THE PURPOSES OF NAVIGATION AND EFFICIENT DEVELOPMENT OF ITS WATER POWER, THE CONTROL OF FLOODS, AND THE NEEDS OF IRRIGATION, by Lt. Col. C.L. Sturtevant, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #187, 73rd Congress, 2nd Session}, NOTE: In this report the Corps did not recommend construction of Avon Bypass but Congress authorized that diversion project, including levees from Burlington to Sedro Woolley, in the 1936 Flood Control Act.  The project was deauthorized in 1990.

17.  

8/26/35

REPORT AND FINDINGS SKAGIT FLOOD CONTROL DISTRICT BOUNDARY COMMISSION, Commission Minutes

18.  

3/29/37 PE

SKAGIT RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES, WASHINGTRON, PE by Lt. Col. H.J. Wild, Corps of Engineers

19.  

7/30/40 S

SKAGIT RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES, WASHINGTON,  S by Col. B.C. Dunn, Corps of Engineers

20.  

12/1/40

FLOOD CONTROL ECONOMIC JUSTIFICATION STUDY, AVON BY-PASS AND EXTENSION OF DIKES TO SEDRO WOOLLEY, APPRAISAL OF DAMAGES 1815 H.W. AND 1921 H.W., SKAGIT RIVER WEST OF AND INCLUDING SEDRO WOOLLEY AND SAMISH RIVER DELTA, Note:  Contains elevation maps of Burlington & Clear Lake

21.  

6/15/42

APPENDIX B, to report on Survey for Flood Control of SKAGIT RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES, WASHINGTON, re W.P.A. FLOOD CONTROL WORK, dated 7/30/40, Corps of Engineers

22.  

1/6/50

REPORT ON SKAGIT RIVER FLOOD, 27-29 NOVEMBER 1949, by Col. Z.C. Itschener, Corps of Engineers

23.     

2/1/50

REPORT ON DERIVATION OF STANDARD PROJECT FLOOD for SKAGIT RIVER NEAR SEDRO WOOLLEY, WASHINGTON, Corps of Engineers

24.     

7/1/50

FLOOD CONTROL ECONOMIC JUSTIFICATION STUDY SKAGIT RIVER, Corps of Engineers

25.     

2/21/52 S

SKAGIT RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES, WASHINGTON, S by Col. John Buehler, Corps of Engineers  {not published, transmitted to Congress 11/28/56}

26.     

2/21/52

APPENDIX to SKAGIT RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES, WASHINGTON, S (Appendix to #24), Corps of Engineers

27.  

1/1/61

FLOODS IN THE SKAGIT RIVER BASIN, WASHINGTON, GEOLOGICAL SURVEY WATER-SUPPLY PAPER 1527, James E. Stewart and G. Lawrence Bodhaine

28.  

2/8/61

PLAN OF SURVEY, SKAGIT RIVER FLOOD CONTROL STUDY, Corps of Engineers

29.     

2/8/61

REPORT ON SKAGIT RIVER FLOOD CONTROL – HEARING WITH THE CORPS OF ARMY ENGINEERS, Skagit County Dike District 12,  NOTE:  Includes several comment letters submitted at public hearing.

30.  

1/18/63 PR

SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON (NAVIGATION), Preliminary Report (PR) on dredging barge channel to Concrete, by Col. Ernst Perry, Corps of Engineers

31.  

11/22/63

INFORMATION BULLETIN FOR PUBLIC HEARING, SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON, PLANS FOR FLOOD CONTROL AND RECREATION IMPROVEMENTS INCLUDING FISHERIES AS ADDED PURPOSES FOR AVON BYPASS, Corps of Engineers

32.  

11/63 RR

9/25/64 SUP

AVON BYPASS, SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON, REACTIVATION REPORT (RR), with SUPPLEMENT (SUP) TO NPS REACTIVATION REPORT OF NOVEMBER 1963, Corps of Engineers

33.  

5/20/64

INTERIM REPORT OF BUREAU OF SPORT FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service  {Appendix D in #31}

34.  

3/1/65

SKAGIT RIVER BASIN, WASHINGTON, FLOOD CONTROL AND OTHER IMPROVEMENTS  by Colonel C.C. Holbrook, Corps of Engineers 

35.     

3/1/66

SUPPLEMENT TO REVIEW REPORT ON FLOOD CONTROL AND OTHER IMPROVEMENTS ON SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON, Corps of Engineers

36.  

7/1/66

FLOOD PLAIN INFORMATION STUDY, SKAGIT RIVER BASIN, WASHINGTON, SUMMARY REPORT, Corps of Engineers

37.     

8/30/66

AVON BYPASS, SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON, DESIGN MEMORANDUM NO. 1, SITE SELECTION, Corps of Engineers

38.  

3/1/65 IRR

8/30/66 HD

SKAGIT RIVER, WASH., Interim Review Report (IRR)by Colonel C.C. Holbrook, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #483, 89th Congress, 2nd Session}   In the 1966 Flood Control Act, Congress authorized the projects recommended in this report:  levee & channel improvements from Burlington to the mouths and addition of recreation (resident trout fishery) as a project purpose to the Avon Bypass project.  These projects were deauthorized in 1995.

39.     

4/1/66

(2/10/66)

FLOOD PLAIN INFORMATION STUDY, SKAGIT RIVER BASIN, WASHINGTON, TECHNICAL REPORT, Corps of Engineers

40.  

1967??

WATERSHED INVESTIGATION REPORTS ON GAGES SLOUGH, Soil Conservation Service, Forest Service & USDA, {prepared to support Puget Sound and Adjacent Waters Comprehensive Study}

41.  

6/1/71

COMPREHENSIVE STUDY OF WATER AND RELATED LAND RESOURCES, PUGET SOUND AND ADJACENT WATERS, STATE OF WASHINGTON, Summary Report and 15 Appendices bound separately, by Puget Sound Task Force of the Pacific Northwest River Basins Commission,  NOTE:  This report recommended: 100,000 ac. Ft. of flood control storage @ Upper Baker and 134,000 ac. Ft. @ Lower Sauk, Avon Bypass @ 60,000 cfs. with the 1966 levee & channel improvements project @ 120,000 cfs., a Nookachamps Creek levee, 100-year levees for Sedro Woolley and Hamilton, and flood plain management & warning measures.  If the Skagit system were to be included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers system, the Lower Sauk dam would be deleted from this plan and Avon Bypass increased to 100,000 cfs.  Report was sent to Congress in 1974.

42.  

3/1/75

PUBLIC BROCHURE, ALTERNATIVES AND THEIR PROS AND CONS, ADDITIONAL FLOOD CONTROL AT UPPER BAKER, Draft #4 by Frank Urabeck, Corps of Engineers

43.     

6/10/75 AR

5/9/77 HD

UPPER BAKER PROJECT, SKAGIT RIVER BASIN, WASHINGTON, Puget Sound and Adjacent Waters Authorization Report (AR) including Final Environmental Impact Statement, by Colonel Raymond J. Eineigl, Corps of Engineers  {published as House Document #149, 95th Congress, 1st Session},  NOTE:  This report recommended 74,000 ac. ft. (58,000 new) of flood control storage in Upper Baker Dam with compensation to the dam owner for lost power revenues from the Federal system.  Project was authorized by Congress in 1977 and the flood control storage was first available during the 1977-1978 flood season.

44.  

1/1/76

POST FLOOD REPORT, SKAGIT RIVER BASIN, December 1975 Flood, by Ernie Sabo, Corps of Engineers

45.  

3/1/76

SKAGIT RIVER FLOODING, AN OVERVIEW, Skagit County Rural Development Committee

46.  

4/22/76

ENVIRONMENTAL EVALUATION FOR SKAGIT RIVER BASIN EMERGENCY LEVEE REPAIRS, SKAGIT COUNTY, WASHINGTON, Corps of Engineers

47.  

6/1/77

REPORT ON FLOODS OF DECEMBER 1975 AND JANUARY 1976, PUGET SOUND, WASHINGTON COASTAL, AND EASTERN SLOPE CASCADE RIVER BASINS, WASHINGTON, Corps of Engineers  {revised 9/20/77}

48.  

3/1/78

SKAGIT RIVER LEVEE & CHANNEL IMPROVEMENTS, PUBLIC BROCHURE, DRAFT 1, by Forest Brooks, Corps of Engineers

49.  

12/20/78

STUDYGRAM for PUBLIC WORKSHOP, SKAGIT RIVER LEVEE & CHANNEL IMPROVEMENTS, by Forest Brooks, Corps of Engineers

50.  

4/6/79

FINAL REVISED REPORT ON EFFECTS OF FLOOD LEVEE PROJECT ON FISH & WILDLIFE RESOURCES, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service  {Summary and Recommendations contained in FEIS}

51.  

4/30/79

DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT, SKAGIT RIVER LEVEE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT, Corps of Engineers

52.  

6/11/79

SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON, ADDENDUM TO THE DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT, DATED MAY 1979, Corps of Engineers

53.     

6/79

SKAGIT RIVER LEVEE IMPROVEMENTS, PUBLIC BROCHURE, DRAFT 2, by Forest Brooks, Corps of Engineers

54.  

7/26/79

SKAGIT RIVER WASHINGTON, GENERAL DESIGN MEMORANDUM, LEVEE IMPROVEMENTS, MAIN REPORT VOL 1 OF 2, by LTC Maxey B. Carpenter, Jr., Corps of Engineers

55.  

7/26/79

SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON, GENERAL DESIGN MEMORANDUM, LEVEE IMPROVEMENTS, APPENDICES VOL 2 OF 2, Corps of Engineers

56.     

7/26/79

SKAGIT RIVER WASHINGTON, FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT, Corps of Engineers

57.  

1981

RECOMMENDATION FOR A FLOOD CONTROL PLAN FOR THE SKAGIT RIVER BASIN, Skagit County Flood Control Committee

58.  

11/27/81

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, TOWN OF HAMILTON, WASHINGTON, SKAGIT COUNTY, prepared for Federal Emergency Management Agency by Corps of Engineers

59.  

12/81

SKAGIT RIVER DAM FAILURE INUNDATION STUDY, Prepared for City of Seattle—Dept of Lighting, by Hydrocomp, Inc

60.     

1/5/82

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, CITY OF SEDRO WOOLLEY, WASHINGTON, SKAGIT COUNTY, prepared for Federal Emergency Management Agency by Corps of Engineers

61.     

1/19/82

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, TOWN OF LYMAN, WASHINGTON, SKAGIT COUNTY, prepared for Federal Emergency Management Agency by Corps of Engineers

62.     

2/2/82

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, TOWN OF CONCRETE, WASHINGTON, SKAGIT COUNTY, prepared for Federal Emergency Management Agency by Corps of Engineers

63.  

12/1/82

ANALYSIS OF FLOODING IN THE SKAGIT RIVER DELTA AREA, by Federal Emergency Management Agency, prepared by Dames & Moore

64.  

6/13/83

GAGES SLOUGH ANALYSIS OF THE FLOODWAY ISSUE, Larry J. Kunzler

65.  

6/14/84

SKAGIT COUNTY FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, FINAL COORDINATION MEETING, Federal Emergency Management Agency and Corps of Engineers

66.     

6/18/84

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, TOWN OF LA CONNER, WASHINGTON, SKAGIT COUNTY, prepared for Federal Emergency Management Agency by Corps of Engineers and Dames & Moore

67.     

7/3/84

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, CITY OF MOUNT VERNON, WASHINGTON, SKAGIT COUNTY, by Federal Emergency Management Agency

68.     

7/3/84

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, CITY OF BURLINGTON, WASHINGTON, SKAGIT COUNTY, prepared for Federal Emergency Management Agency by Corps of Engineers and Dames & Moore

69.  

10/17/84

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, SKAGIT COUNTY, WASHINGTON, UNINCORPORATED AREAS, prepared for Federal Emergency Management Agency by Corps of Engineers and Dames & Moore

70.  

9/29/89

FLOOD INSURANCE STUDY, SKAGIT COUNTY, WASHINGTON, UNINCORPORATED AREAS, prepared for Federal Emergency Management Agency by Corps of Engineers and Dames & Moore – Revised

71.  

2/1/89

BAKER DAM FAILURE INUNDATION STUDY, prepared for Puget Sound Power and Light Company by Hydrocomp, Inc.

72.  

4/1/89

SKAGIT COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE FLOOD CONTROL MANAGEMENT PLAN, prepared for Skagit County Public Works Dept. by Brown and Caldwell

73.  

1/1/91

NOVEMBER 1990: A PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT OF FLOOD DAMAGE TO THE SKAGIT RIVER FISHERIES RESOURCES, Skagit System Cooperative

74.     

5/1/91

SKAGIT RIVER VALLEY, THE DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN, by Larry Kunzler

75.  

7/18/91

FLOOD SUMMARY REPORT - NOOKSACK, SKAGIT AND SNOHOMISH RIVER BASINS - NOVEMBER 1990 EVENTS, by Corps of Engineers

76.  

7/1/92

THE NOVEMBER 1990 FLOODS IN WESTERN WASHINGTON, USA, R. D. Harr & T. W. Cundy, University of Washington

77.  

12/1/92

KELLER ROHRBACK SKAGIT RIVER FLOOD ANALYSIS, DRAFT REPORT, Kramer, Chin & Mayo, Inc.

78.  

4/1/93

DRAFT RECONNAISSANCE REPORT, SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON, FLOOD DAMAGE REDUCTION STUDY, Draft #1, Corps of Engineers  {Internal Draft for Study Team Review}

79.  

5/1/93

DRAFT RECONNAISSANCE REPORT, SKAGIT RIVER, WASHINGTON, FLOOD DAMAGE REDUCTION STUDY, Draft #2, Corps of Engineers  {Final Draft}

  1.  

4/9/2003

PIE Assessment of Additional Flood Control Storage at Baker River Project

  1.  

2/14/2004

James E. Stewart Skagit River Flood Reports And Assorted Documents: A Citizen Critical Review Whitepaper authored by Larry Kunzler

Whitepaper Appendix E

  1.  

3/10/2004

DRAFT Upper and Lower Baker Dams Probable Maximum Flood Study Report

  1.  

5/3/2004

USGS Investigations of Floods on the Skagit River

  1.  

6/7/2004

USGS Response To Whitepaper

  1.  

8/27/2004

PIE Technical Memorandum: Analysis of Flood Control Storage at Baker River Project

  1.  

8/27/2004

PIE Technical Memorandum: Analysis of Flood Control Storage at Baker River Project

  1.  

11/16/2004

Draft Evaluation of Flood Peaks Est. by USGS (without Appendices, See Jarrett Review under USGS; See also "Whitepaper" under LJK Documents)

  1.  

2/10/2005

Surface-Water Specialist Mark Mastin Letter to Skagit County Public Works Director Chal Martin

  1.  

2/14/2005

Review & Comments of "Draft Evaluation of Flood Peaks Estimated by USGS" by Robert D. Jarrett, Ph.D., USGS, National Research Program

  1.  

9/05

NFIP Insurance Report as of September 2005

  1.  

2/10/2006

An Evaluation of Flood Frequency Analyses for the Skagit River, Skagit County, Washington

  1.  

7/23/2006

James E. Stewart Skagit River Flood Reports And Assorted Documents:  A Citizen Critical Review Whitepaper, Updated and Republished

  1.  

10/26/2006

USGS Response to Updated Whitepaper

  1.  

2/2007

Skagit River Hydrology Independent Technical Review Draft Report

  1.  

2/8/2007

Cover Letter to Carl Cook, Director of FEMA Region X

Preliminary Investigation into Historic Flood Marks in the “Smith” House

  1.  

2/12/2007

FEMA response to Hamilton Smith House Report

  1.  

2/22/2007

Skagit River Basin, Washington Revised Flood Insurance Study - Draft Hydraulics Summary

  1.  

3/27/2007

Skagit River Hydrology Independent Technical Review

  1.  

4/2007

nhc Skagit River Hydrology Independent Technical Review Final Report

  1.  

5/19/2007

Cockreham Island Buy-Out Feasibility Study Executive Summary

  1.  

8/9/2007

Skagit River Revised Flood Insurance Study
Levee Scenario Discussion

  1.  

6/4/2007

Pacific International Engineering Technical Memorandum Hydraulic Analysis – Smith House Flood Stages

  1.  

6/7/2007

Hromadka & Associates: An Independent Technical Review – Comments on Flood Frequency Analyses for the Skagit River, Skagit County, Washington

  1.  

8/10/2007

Re-evaluation of the 1921 Peak Discharge at Skagit River near Concrete, Washington

  1.  

8/15/2007

Hromadka & Associates An Independent Technical Review – Comments on Flood Frequency Analyses for the Skagit River, Skagit County, Washington (Final Report)

  1.  

8/17/2007

WJE Smith House Forensic Report

  1.  

11/17/2007

Preliminary Historical Investigation of East Concrete and Crofoot Addition Flood Levels

  1.  

12/04/07

Historic Flood Flows of the Skagit River

  1.  

2/14/2008

Corps of Engineers Seattle District Flood Risk Assessment

  1.  

2/28/2008

Cultural Resources Assessment for the Mount Vernon Downtown Flood Protection Project

They all pretty much say the same thing….Waters wet, it flows downhill, get the hell out of its way.  See also History of Flood Control Projects Studied.

f.       Do you know of any specific individuals or organizations that are not listed that should be involved in this effort?

Unless you’re talking about the FCZD committee I have not seen the list of people involved but it should include God, the devil, and everyone in-between. 

  1. Flood Planning in Skagit County

a.       What specific flood concerns do you have about the present condition here in Skagit County?

Regulations in place have not been enforced with respect to the massive commercial development that has taken place over the last 25 years and for what is planned for the future.  Regulations have not been enforced with respect to the diking district activities.

Levees have created a terrible sense of false security among the current residents and with respect to the severity of the flood problem are the direct cause of this committee being formed.

Federal government has not listened to the concerns of local residents concerning the hydrology, as the current hydrology being used by federal agencies does not comport with local history.

b.      What do you see as the goals and objectives of this planning effort?

See response to 1(c) above.

c.       What past flood planning efforts do you know have been made in Skagit County by any entity—the feds, state, county, cities, dike or drainage districts, other?

See response to 1(e) above.

                                                  i.      How did they turn out from your perspective?

Failures. 

                                                ii.      Why did they turn out that way?

For the most part the lack of the ability of the authors and local government to properly educate the public and the expectation of the 34% of the floodplain residents to demand that the 66% who do not live in the floodplain to bail them out.  Then there is the whole “lack of interest in flood control” issue to deal with.  (See BOC letter to Corps re Avon Bypass 9/6/66) (See also Historical Record of the Avon By-Pass Proposal (1921-2004))

d.      Right now there are three flood planning efforts underway in Skagit County, this CFHMP effort; the Skagit GI by the Army Corp of Engineers; and the Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan.  What do you know about these efforts and what do you know about how they tie together.

To date all three have been an embarrassment to the people of Skagit County.  Millions of dollars spent for little if any benefit.  The very fact that the County has to hire a private consultant to assist it in putting together something that should have been accomplished decades ago in a couple of months is a tribute to the county’s (including dike districts, cities and towns involved with this issue) inability to accomplish anything in this arena.

e.       Would you mark on this map any areas where you know about a potential flood hazard solution or have flood concerns?  Remember that solutions can be structural or nonstructural.

First, no map was provided to me.  Second, there are 90,000 acres of floodplain.  Solutions are as varied as what location you are talking about although there are only two solutions that make sense to me.  One, more storage behind the dams, specifically the utilization of Lake Shannon.  More storage coupled with operational changes during storm/flood events would be of benefit to everyone from Concrete to LaConner. 

Two, the solution in the lower valley is to get the water past the City of Burlington and get rid of it before it gets to Mt. Vernon.  This has been known in the Skagit Valley for almost 90 years.  See but not limited to the following:  1922 PROPOSED FLOOD CONTROL SKAGIT RIVER, by Robert Herzog, Great Northern Railway Company; 1/4/18 B.J.; 1/10/18 MVH; 12/22/21 Argus; 12/22/21 CT; 11/18/32 B.J.; The Realities of Flood Control in Skagit County;

f.       If you were to select three top projects or actions to take in order to reduce flood concerns in the Skagit, what would they be?

Flood storage behind the dam, widening the 3 bridge corridor more then 400 feet and emergency spillways:

Emergency Overflow Spillway:  If we are successful in obtaining accurate hydraulic data and the 100 year flood flows are adjusted downward as the historic record strongly suggest they should be, and if we could achieve the added protection of additional storage either through voluntary or compensation means, then I feel that the cheapest, most environmental friendly and engineering feasible project we could build would be an emergency overflow spillway in the Avon area.  This spillway would only be activated when flows reach 145,000 cfs at the Mt. Vernon gage.  In the last 82 years, the spillway would only have had to be used once and possibly twice (1990 and 1995).  The floodwaters would then flow naturally towards Padilla Bay, which is where they are going to flow anyway during a major flood event.  It is not as if we would be spilling the entire flow of the river.  During the 1990 flood event, the spillway would only have been spilling water for a period of 11 hours for an average of 5,100 cfs per hour.  Granted, during a 100-year event, the spillway could be spilling as much as 30-50,000 cfs but what is the alternative: To have the water flow through the City of Burlington or be forced into the Samish River Basin? 

There would be many benefits to the spillway approach:

a.       It would allow the flood waters to pass the City of Burlington and spill onto the floodplain in a safe manner before it reaches the City of Mt. Vernon thus saving the Urban areas from catastrophic flooding.

b.      By allowing the farmland to be subject to flooding, (once in the past 82 years), it would preserve the farmland from urban encroachment.

c.       By designating the area as a floodway it would prohibit further development in the natural corridor where under current conditions the floodwaters are going to go anyway thus decreasing future damages.  Further, it would keep the floodway designation out of the Urban areas which under current conditions in all likelihood it will be placed.

d.      Out of all the projects looked at, this could be the most affordable; provide the most benefits, meet the three E’s, perhaps even be acceptable to the majority of the voters who should have the final say in any proposed project.  Admittedly, the people living in this floodway corridor would object, but what they must realize is that if we do nothing, which is what we have done for the last 100 years, during any catastrophic levee failure or even if the levees hold under current conditions the water will end up in that corridor as they have in so many floods in the past. 

e.       What about the fish you ask?  Wouldn’t providing an emergency overflow spillway put fish out onto the floodplain?  The simple answer is yes.  Once in the last 82 years we would have impacted some fish.  In the last 82 years there have been many levee failures.  The most recent on Fir Island in 1990.  How many fish were impacted by the levee failures?  If there were no levees, how many fish are stranded on the floodplain?  The fish issue like any other adverse impact can be mitigated if given a chance.  (See The Realities of Flood Control in Skagit County); (See also Historical Record of the Avon By-Pass Proposal (1921-2004), and Historical Record of Fish Related Issues (1897-1969)

g.      Considering the balance between environmental protections and reducing property damage, what factors do you feel should be considered in developing this plan?

There are three elements that must be part of any flood control project.  They are known as “The Three E’s”.  The project must be engineeringly feasible, environmentally friendly and it must be economically achievable.  If you take the time to review the documents referenced herein you will see that I firmly believe that the institution of spillways (as in perhaps more then one) meets all three of those elements.  Some would try and add a fourth element, one that is politically feasible.  Local politics has been what has destroyed coordinated flood control efforts in the past.  It must not be allowed to be part of another failure.

h.      If you are asked to prioritize various flood control approaches or solutions, what criteria would you use in helping you evaluate what priorities should be chosen?

                                                  i.      Examples – Benefit, likelihood of success, cost, grant or low interest loan availability, likelihood of acceptance by the impacted community, etc.

FINANCING!  It doesn’t matter what the benefits are, or the project, if you don’t have a plan to finance it.  What killed the 1979 levee improvement project was that the local residents didn’t want to pay for it.  Anything involving a property tax for all that isn’t based on a benefit ratio is bound to fail.  Sales tax is a much better avenue to travel as it is based on a who plays pays philosophy.  See Plan B Presentation and Plan B Video.

i.        How can the CHFMP effort best benefit the community?

Identify past mistakes.  Admit to them.  Make sure we don’t continue to make them.  Pick a project.  Any project.  Propose how you are going to pay for it.  Then put it to the voters and get it done.  Rely on local monies and not the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow from the federal government.  Be realistic about what the problem is, the solution to the problem, and how you are going to pay for it.  Then realize that you are going to have to sell your ideas to the public.  Selling it to the public is going to be the largest and most difficult hurdle to go over.  Realize that when you are selling you have show the benefits of the work product to the community which includes the local property owner.  How is the individual who lives on a hill in Anacortes going to benefit in the same manner as the resident of Burlington whose entire community goes underwater?  How are sports fishermen going to benefit the same as the Tribes?  Be able to put yourself in everyone else’s shoes before you begin to sell your program. 

  1. Salmon

a.       One of the goals of this planning effort is to develop policies and recommendations for county-wide flood hazard management program planning and implementation, including Skagit River flood control improvements that may also benefit salmon recovery.  What are your impressions of this and do you have any factors or criteria that should be considered when addressing flood solutions or approaches and benefits to salmon recovery?

See Historical Record of Fish Related Issues (1897-1969).  This document was prepared using the historical information obtained from local newspaper articles and quotes extensively from State vs. McCoy, 63 Wn.2d 421 (1963). The documentation clearly shows the demise of the Salmon runs on the Skagit River and the reasons for their demise.  What is needed is for the Tribes and the local fish people to identify a project or projects that they would like to see built.  Then proposed those projects to the flood committee to see how they could be tied to any or all flood control projects.  Included in the arguments should be how they feel local flood control efforts have damaged the fisheries.  Right now, I believe the flood community feels the fish issue is a red herring and they are not to blame for the many other factors that are contributing to the demise of the salmon, like nets in the river.  Regardless of treaty rights, dead salmon are dead salmon.  Every side in this issue has to be willing to give something up if we are to ever solve the problem.

    1. Are there any specific types of projects you envision that could benefit both objectives?

Spillways certainly benefit both objectives.  One they keep the main force of the flood waters out of the urban centers and two they keep the current levee system from putting more fish out into the fields then what they would do if we do nothing at all.  If an emergency spillway was put in at Avon and the current levees had been in place with the amount of storage behind the dams we have now, in the last 82 years we would have only had to dump the water onto the floodplain once.  ONCE in 82 years would have benefited both the locals and the fish.

  1. Costs

     

    1. What funding mechaniss for implementing flood reduction projects do you feel are realistic?

Unless the money is used to pay for upriver storage, personally I will work against any and all property tax increases to pay for any project and especially work against any property tax money to pay for government employee salaries or studies.  The sales tax is the only fair and reasonable tax that should be implemented.  Anything else will only alienate the voters.  Getting the federal and state government to pay for their share of past mistakes (federal highway and WSDOT for building the freeway in such an irresponsible manner as they did and FEMA for not enforcing the NFIP) should be used in obtaining funding as well.

    1. In considering that flood reduction projects will require funding, to what extent do you feel the community is willing to pay for a part of the costs, provided an effort is made to maximize grant and low interest loan funding?

See answer to 4(a).  NO PROPERTY TAX!!  Further, this issue should be put to the voters as soon as possible in an advisory vote.  In 1979 the voters turned down flood control by a 73% margin.  This was due largely to the cost factor.  That is why this element of flood control should be determined before any more millions of dollars are wasted on “studies” or consultants.  Query the voters.  Find out what they are willing to pay for and how they are willing to pay for it.  Past efforts in this vein have failed due to the size of surveys given to voters.  Put together an advisory vote that ask them to make a choice, property taxes, sales tax or no local taxes of any kind.

  1. Process and Public Involvement

     

    1. Please look at the orgnizational structure for this effort.  Do you have any comments on what you think would make this effort successful?

I wasn’t given the organizational structure unless you are talking about the structure of the FCZD.  Under the guidelines of the countywide flood control zone district the structure is fine although it will be cumbersome to work through and all the time knowing that the County Commissioners don’t have to accept any of the recommendations from the committee will be somewhat bothersome.  However, having served on several committees I am confident that we can come to a consensus and make recommendations that the Commissioners will accept and implement. 

    1. How is it easiest to communicate with you?

E-mail at either work or home.

    1. How informed do you believe the general public is in relation to flood concerns here in Skagit County?

66% of the people do not live in the floodplain and thus don’t really know much or are concerned to educate themselves about the issue.  Most of the 34% of the residents who live in the floodplain have been lulled to sleep with a terrible sense of false security that the levees have provided.  “Hasn’t flooded in my lifetime so therefore it won’t ever flood again.”  These people have never heard of Lewis County or New Orleans.

    1. Do you have any thoughts on how it would be best to communicate with the public at large throughout this process so that the public is kept informed and involved?

Televise the meetings of the Advisory Committee.  Ask for e-mail addresses from all those interested.  Make sure the local press is always invited to the meetings.  Periodically run 4 or 5 question surveys in the local newspaper or create a web blog for interested citizen comments.

    1. How do you see the relationship between the Advisory Committee and the Technical Committees functioning and what do you think will be needed to make sure communications are clear?

The advisory committees should tell the technical committees what they expect from them.  The technical committees should expect their work products to be challenged and not rubber stamped.  Dedication, long hours, and hard work should be expected from all involved in this process.  We should adopt a set of “Ground Rules” for all to conduct themselves, which should include but not necessarily be limited to the following:

Behavior ground rules

·          Be respectful and considerate of each other

·          Only speak one at a time

·          Everyone gets a chance to speak

·          Work to understand—ask questions if you need to

·          Above all else realize that nothing stated is personal

·          Speak to issues only not to the personality of the person speaking

·          Check your ego’s at the door, no one on the committee is any more important then any other member of the committee

·          Realize that you are here on this committee for the overall good of all the people of Skagit County and not necessarily just your personal interest or area

Decision making ground rules

·          Water flows downhill, realize that any changes to the river will impact someone upstream or downstream;

·          If the decision you reach is not hard, you’re probably avoiding the important issues.  Make sure you have listened to all sides of the issue before you vote;

·          Support your positions with documentation not just opinions;

·          Search for disagreement (not argument).  Remember we are here to find solutions not just conduct a public debate;

·          Allow yourself to be convinced on merits, not group pressure;

·          Seek differences of opinion based on interests and values, not old prejudices or personalities;

·          Agree to disagree, it’s what makes America a great country, however be prepared to answer the question what would it take to change you mind;

·          And above all else put the Skagit County residents interest above your own.

    1. Do you have any questions on how this process will proceed?

I don’t have any questions however I do have some concerns.  My main concern is that the Skagit County Public Works Department realizes that they are not in charge of this committee.  The committee members should determine when and how often they meet, what the agenda items should include, and what they expect of the technical committees.  The committee should use electronic technology to its fullest to meet committee goals (i.e. government agencies should use video conferencing to attend meetings in order to save the taxpayers as much money as possible… way too much money has already been wasted on way too many meetings that government agents did not need to attend and when they did, contributed very little to the meetings.)  All committee meetings should be televised in order that the public can have a chance to review what is being done.  While the CHFMP is one element that will come out of this process it is not necessarily the only element.

  1. Any Other Questions or Comments?

Not at this time, however I am sure that as time goes on there will be.  Thank you for allowing me to participate in your questionnaire.  I would suggest that in the future your questionnaires be limited to one page as most people won’t respond something this all inclusive.  I don’t mind but my professional experience in sending out questionnaires to thousands of people is that most people will not respond to anything more then 1 page or more then 5 or 6 questions.

LETS DO IT OURSELVES!  LETS DO IT NOW!!

May your fields be ripe and budding and your rivers full and flooding (because its the only time people pay attention). 

 The Angry Citizen

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