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1979 Levee Project Issues Page

1979 Levee Improvement Project Historical Index

This index is a compilation of 30 newspaper articles from the Skagit Valley Herald concerning the 1979 Levee Improvement Project.  It should be considered must reading for all city, county, and Federal employees that were not part of the 1979 project and are currently working on the flood control issue on the Skagit River.

1974 1974 Notes on Burlington Ring Dike 1974 preliminary plan for ring dike around City of Burlington.
4/29/1975 Corps letter to County re request to undertake preconstruction engineering studies for the authorized Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvement Project ...Flood plain management as now implemented by both your county and the State of Washington, Department of Ecology. has given us confidence those residing in the flood plain are. and will continue to be aware of the actual flood risk, and that development is regulated, consistent with this risk.
7/17/1975 Series of letters re Congressman Meeds inquiry re changes in the deferred to active project list. Congressman used recycled paper for his stationary.  BCC wanted to activate the 1966 Levee and Channel Improvement project; achieve additional storage behind Baker Dam; have a study done on the feasibility of the Sauk River Dam; agreed that if Sauk not feasible then would look at Avon Bypass.  "We, as a Board, know that we are sitting on a "Time Bomb" in the Skagit Valley.
10/16/1975 Corps internal communication re "Reclassification of Authorized Skagit River, WA, Levee and Channel Improvement Project "The subject project (authorized in 1966) would provide flood protection to some 68,000 acres of delta flood plain at the mouth of the river. The improvements would increase the level of protection from once in 3 to 10 years, to a minimum of once in 8 years.  The authorization report noted that if the levee improvements were constructed- with the Avon Bypass, protection would be accomplished for floods with an expected recurrence of once in 35 years. To avoid a false sense of flood security, the report concluded that the levee and channel improvements should be constructed as an integral part of a basin plan for flood control, which as a minimum should include provision for construction of Avon Bypass project or upstream storage."
10/29/1975 Corps "FACT SHEET" on Skagit River Basin Document looked at Upper Baker Storage; Levee and Channel Improvement; Avon Bypass; and the Lower Sauk Project.  Characterized the Avon Bypass as "authorized in 1936 as a "make work" project.
1/7/1976 MFR RE Skagit River Flood Fight for Dec 26 1975 high water River was predicted to reach 29 feet on Dec 27 and locals were concerned about the breaks in the levees on Cockreham levee.  Corps "plugged" five breaks in the levees at an estimated cost of $12,000.
4/1/1976 Handwritten note by Corps Staff re one of the first strategy sessions for the 1979 project. "New survey report but do under GDM outcome -- solution to problem.  . . . Finish in 78 . . . Can't rule out non-structural"
4/22/1976 Corps DF re Environmental Assessment of Levee Repairs After 1975 Flood Event Repairs took place on Cockreham Island.  Skagit floods "characterized by sharp rises of relatively short duration from October through March."  . . .  "The Skagit River system produces more runoff than any other river basin in the Puget Sound area."  100 year flood 266,000 cfs.  50-year flood 224,000 cfs.  Zero damage 60,000 cfs.  Present levee system with 2ft of freeboard 84,000 to 130,000 cfs or 3 to 11 year protection.  . . . Ross Dam controls about 30 percent of the basin's runoff with 120,000 acre-ft of storage space. . . . During the 1972-1973 collection period,  nearly 14,400 salmon were captured,  trucked, and  released into Baker Lake and adjoining artificial spawning beaches . They consisted  of 10,000 sockeye , 4, 000  coho, 250  chinook , and 30  chum.  In  addition, 50 steelhead trout were captured and released.  . . . The damaged areas at the   town  of Hamilton, and the  four damaged portions between Hamilton and Lyman occurred  where the  high water flow  was  either restricted or at a sharp  change in direction without adequate floodway area to handle the  resulting turbulence.  The floodwater was most destructive where the levee was breached; in some of these cases the water velocity cut a channel from the river through the vegetated bench and beyond into the agricultural area. . . . The greatest loss to fish will be the loss of eggs placed in the gravels by spawning fish prior to the flood.
6/23/1976 Corp MFR re Skagit County Flood Insurance Study -- Delta Flooding "Lloyd Johnson agreed, with the exception that he would like to see a more "realistic water surface profile, i.e., "a waterfall", where the floodwaters emerge through the dike area rather than a gradual drop as we had shown in our 1973 report."
10/15/1976 ACOE MFR RE Levee and Channel Improvements "...authorized in 1966"  . . . "includes the following elements: (a) raising low spots on riverbank levees to provide a minimum of 2 feet of freeboard, (b) -increasing top widths to a minimum of 10 feet, (c) flattening overly steep Side slopes to a maximum of 1 vertical to 2 horizontal, (d) - the-addition of riprap at critical locations, and (e) channel widening 'improvements at three locations to remove obstructions to flood flows."    . . .  " Providing a minimum of 100-year protection for urban areas will be considered with a possibility of higher protection provided by Upper Baker storage or other measures ."
1/27/1977 ACOE MFR RE telephonic conversation with Commissioner Jerry Mansfield re funding for the flood control project Project Manager advised Commissioner Mansfield to have local interest write their Congressmen and Senators to show a "continued interest" in the project.  He suggested writing separate letters to each representative.
2/23/1977 ACOE DF ("Disposition form") re meeting to review the hydrology and hydraulics information available and the needs of flood plain and flood control studies "During the discussion ... three things became clear.  (1) Existing data is not sufficient.  (2) Data needed for the flood plain study is different data than needed for the flood control study; (3) difference of opinions exist regarding the needs for the flood control study.

"Lack of capability to perform timely hydrology studies should not place limits on extent of flood protection considered and study schedule should be established to agree with District priorities and capabilities. An early meeting should be scheduled with Chief, Engineering Division to consider any needed reordering of priorities or delays of study."
4/13/1977 ACOE MFR re: status of Skagit River Levee & Channel Improvement Study Although the hydrology study had not started yet there was no need to seek additional funds "(beyond existing $100,000)".
4/13/1977 Ltr to County Commissioner Howard Miller fm ACOE re Skagit County Flood Insurance Study be expedited Results of Skagit River study scheduled to be completed July 1, 1978.  The entire study of the basin scheduled for completion in September 1979.
5/6/1977 ACOE District Engineer ltr to Portland District Headquarters re:  scope and design for the Levees and Channel Improvement Project reformulation ". . . primary concern of the Levees and Channel Improvement Project should be urban flood damage reduction for Mount Vernon, Burlington and Sedro Woolley areas . . .   " . . .  During the last decade, conditions in . -the area have changed considerably and the scope and level of flood damage reduction should be reevaluated  "  . . .  "In order to accommodate this need for considering a higher level of flood protection for the urban areas, more extensive surveys, foundation investigations, hydrology, hydraulic and economic studies will be required than were previously anticipated."
5/9/1977 ACOE MFR re: Avon Bypass Deauthorization - Meeting with Skagit County Engineer We told Mr. Johnson that we would be sending out a letter alerting local officials to the deauthorization study.  We told Mr. Johnson that the first element of work which we would be getting underway would be a survey contract to map the existing levees and provide topography for use in our hydrologic and hydraulic studies.  NOTE:  This strongly suggest that the entire $4 million dollar GDM was done in two years.
5/19/1977 ACOE ltr to local resident of Skagit Valley re: information he requested "We have completed most of our field surveys and foundation exploration and are currently developing the hydrologic model to determine the exact extent of the 100- and 10-year flood plain. As stated in the public brochure, the alternative cost estimates were not based on detailed studies, but were preliminary engineering estimates of the range of casts that could be involved for each of the alternatives."
5/19/1977 ACOE MFR re: Skagit County Flood Insurance Study Work list for study.  "They plan (GDM Study) to do the kind of analysis of delta flooding that we rejected for the Skagit County FIS because it would cost over $100K. If their plans gel, we could ask FIA if they want us to include the analysis in the FIS. We hadn't planned to re-study the delta for the FIS.  "
6/1977 U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Report on Floods of December 1975 and January 1976 Partial report containing sections pertinent to the Skagit River.  Storm began on 29th of November and lasted to the 4th of December.  "Baker River Basin amounts to 11 percent of the Skagit river drainage." . . ."Outflow from Lake Shannon continued to increase. . .24,800 c.f.s..". . . "Without flood control regulation by Ross Dam and the Baker River Projects, the flood peak would have been about 39.9 feet (147,000 c.f.s.), 3 feet higher than the observed peak."  Third highest peak since 1940.  One of the more interesting things about this report is the areas they had to sandbag to keep the levees from failing.
6/8/1977 ACOE DF re: All Hands Meeting to agree on the "plan of study" for the 1979 Levee and Channel Improvements Study. ". . .no significant problems are known at this time."  . . . ". . .during the last decade, urbanization has increased considerably and the scope and level of flood damage reduction should be reevaluated for the urban areas."  NOTE:  This is an amazing document that shows us that as of June 8, 1977 the GDM had not been started, yet it was published in 1979.  
6/15/1977 ACOE MFR re: Meeting to agree on the "plan of study" for the 1979 Levee and Channel Improvements Study which took place on June 13, 1977 " . . . of the $28,000 listed for report preparation,$6,000 would be used by Drafting Section to prepare the final plates  "  . . . "Regional Planning Section in coordination with Civil Design Section will start work on design in April 1978 and complete in September 1978."  . . .  " After the design is completed about: 3 months will be required to prepare the draft General Design Memorandum and another six months to complete the final GDM for submittal to NPD. The schedule for submittal of the Draft GDM would be December 1978 and for the final GDM May 1979."
6/24/1977 ACOE  Headquarters in Portland ltr to Seattle District Engineer re: extending Levee project upstream through Mt. Vernon and Burlington ". . .Assuming the Avon Bypass is not deauthorized, your report must include a "last added" analysis of each element of the overall protection plan of the basin.  Your proposal to extend the study scope upstream through the areas of Mount Vernon, Burlington and Sedro Woolley does create a separate set of problems  ". . . ". . . extension of the. project that far via a phase 1 report would require a significant Post Authorization Change report requiring Congressional action."
6/24/1977 Northern Pacific Division (Portland) Headquarters ltr to Seattle District re Skagit River Levees and Channel Improvements

". . . based on a review of the authorizing document and assuming such extension is justified and desired by local interests, extension of the project that far via a phase 1 report would require a significant Post Authorization Change report requiring Congressional action." . . . An alternative course of action would be to proceed with a GDM report covering the general project area reconsidering the degree of protection to be provided. At the same time preauthorization studies could proceed on the area upstream under the authority of the PSFAW study or under Section 216. Such a procedure would permit early construction capability and at the same time cover the full flood control needs of the area."

7/1/1977 Ltr to Corps North Pacific Division Engineer fm Seattle District re Skagit River Levees and Channel Improvements The alternative course of action suggested in enclosure 2 involves considering areas upstream of Mount Vernon in a preauthorization study under authority of PS&AW. ... We feel the proper method of determining the best plan for the Skagit River Delta is through the General Design Memorandum.
7/5/1977 Skagit County Existing Land Use Plans and Regulations Applicable to the Proposal (i.e. Proposed Interpretive Center) as interpreted by the Corps The 1968 Comprehensive Plan map designated Fir Island, the site of the proposed Interpretive Center Complex, as "Agricultural Floodway," and the area riverward of Wiley Slough and Freshwater Slough as "Floodway." However, the Comprehensive Plan text is very general and provides no specific definitions or policies for these designations.  ... Skagit WRA is laced with sloughs of Skagit River, which are considered associated wetlands of the river.  ...  The proposed interpretive center program would serve citizens from all of the State of Washington. Statewide interest and public awareness of shoreline resources and their value would be served by the interpretive center program.  ...  The proposed interpretive center program would increase and enhance recreational opportunities on these shorelines.  In conclusion, the proposed interpretive center would be in compliance with all regulations and policies of the Skagit County Shorelines Master Program. It is, in fact, encouraged by many of them (such as policies for shorelines of statewide significance).
7/11/1977 Corps ltr to Skagit County Planning re deauthorization of the Avon Bypass project

Document contains attachments:  Avon Bypass Information Sheet; Project Deauthorization Review; Basin Map
'. . . a. Additional Flood Control at Upper Baker Project. The Upper Baker Project recently received congressional approval. The operation of the Upper Baker Dam will be modified for flood control purposes by providing up to 58,000 additional acre-feet of flood control storage by increasing reservoir drawdown in the period 1 November to 15 November of each year. Implementation of the project will not require structural modifications to existing facilities. Coupled with flood plain management, the project will increase flood protection in the Skagit River flood plain below Concrete, Washington, by decreasing peak discharges from those now experienced.  . . . b. Levee and Channel Improvements  . . . the project involves raising and strengthening existing levees downstream from Burlington and Mount Vernon, Washington, and making minor channel improvements to increase minimum channel capacities.  In conjunction with the Upper Baker Project, the levee and channel improvements project, if constructed as authorized, would increase the minimum level of flood protection in areas downstream from Burlington, Washington, from 3 years to an average recurrence interval of 11 years, with 3-foot freeboard.  Together with the projects mentioned above, the Avon Bypass Project would increase minimum flood protection from 11 to 59 years for the area downstream from Burlington. ' . . . The county has developed a comprehensive flood control plan for the Skagit Valley,  one element of which is the Avon Bypass. However, local cost sharing requirements currently are beyond the means of the county.
7/11/1977 Corps Regional Planning Branch Work Request "Request you proceed with the following:  Hydrograph analyses at Sedro Woolley: Develop design quality 25-, 50-, 100-, and 200-year flood hydrographs for Skagit River at Sedro Woolley. These shall represent the present river condition and 74,000 acre feet of flood control storage in Baker-Lake.  Hydrologic analysis of interior drainage; Routing, combining and backwater analysis."
7/11/1977 Corps Study Manager ltr to local Dike District Commissioner on Fir Island Corps promises to determine the social economic and environmental effects of each alternative as well as the engineering, design and cost estimates
7/15/1977 Corps MFR re Skagit Levees Document describes trip to Skagit for the purpose of locating drainage and control structures and other critical design features which might be impacted by levee project.  ...  Generally the trip served as a design orientation exercise for both Regional Planning and Civil Design Section representatives. Civil Design representatives will prepare a separate photo reconnaissance and field notes on the trip.
7/18/1977 Letter to Corps Headquarters from Congressman Lloyd Meeds re Sauk River dry dam. Asked the following questions: 1)How much flood protection would be provided; 2)Will a dry dam on the Sauk be engineeringly sound, economically justified and environmentally safe?; 3) What type of time frame needed for study.
7/22/1977 Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvements -- Project Schedule December 1978 Draft GDM; Final GDM April 1979; June 1980 initiate Construction
7/29/1977 Outline for Briefing District Engineer on Skagit River Flood Problems Draft notes on what needed to be done for formal briefing to District Engineer.
8/17/1977 Corps "River Mile" maps March 1965 maps.
8/23/1977 Corps Portland Division Headquarters MFR to Corps Headquarters in Washington DC re Reclassification of Avon Bypass Project Agreed with Seattle District that Avon Bypass should be reclassified from deferred to active.  "... Avon Bypass Project authorized by the 1936 Flood Control Act would be constructed as a part of an overall Skagit Valley flood control plan. The authorized project includes construction of the by-pass in the vicinity of Avon as well as construction of upstream levees in the vicinity of Sedro Woolley. and Burlington."  NOTE:  As of this date studies needed for project had not yet began.
8/23/1977 Ltr fm Corps DC Headquarters to Division Engineer (Portland) re Reclassification of Authorized Skagit River, Wa Avon Bypass Project This document provided the authority for the Corps Seattle District to expand the study to include the area from I-5 to Sedro-Woolley. "The Avon Bypass is a separable element in a 3-element flood control plan for the Skagit River below Sedro-Woolley."  . . . Previous reclassification of this element to the "deferred category was based on local interests unwillingness to provide the required local cooperation." . . .  "Therefore in the absence of any reasonable expectation of obtaining local cooperation in the near future, the rationale for reclassification of the bypass at this time is not apparent since conditions have not changed."
8/31/1977 Corps Letter to County re studies of the Levee & Channel Improvement Project. “There has been extensive development in the Burlington-Sedro Woolley area since our flood control studies in 1964, and flood protection for this area now appears to be urgently needed.”
8/31/1977 Corps ltr to SCBCC re Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvements Project Current authority for project does not include the Burlington-Sedro Woolley area.  Corps wanted to use the 1936 authorization for the Avon Bypass.  Bypass had been in "deferred category since March 1972."  Corps told County to send a letter asking that the Avon Bypass project not be deauthorized.
9/27/1977 Corps ltr to Seattle Times re inaccuracies in their 9/16/77 editorial title "Ray's Ill-Advised Dip in Skagit River Issue" in which the Times reported that the Skagit had experienced a "100 yr flood" The levees along the Skagit River passed the 10-year peak flow in December 1975 only because of the successful flood fighting efforts of citizens and local, state, and federal agencies.. flood damages in the Skagit River Basin were estimated at $3,247,000.  Damages from a 100-year event would have been about $35,000,000," based on 1975 price levels.  Utilizing the authorized flood control storage behind Baker Dam will raise the level of protection to between 5 and 21 years. Adding the authorized levee and channel improvements would raise the protection to between 11 and 100 years. Addition of the authorized Avon bypass project that passes 60,000 c.f.s. to Padilla Bay would raise the protection to between 55 and 100 years.
11/14/1977 Seattle District MFR re 11/9/77 meetings with local Skagit Officials  Corps officials came to Skagit County to give them draft letters for the BCC, cities and towns and Ports to send to Corps showing local cooperation.  
11/29/1977 Corps response ltr to Whatcom-Skagit-Island Contractors Association  “We are in an early state of our studies and cannot determine how many contracts would be involved in comp1eting the project - construction would be initiated in fiscal year 1980 if continuity of funding is maintained.”
See also:  11/15/1977
Ltr to Corps fm Whatcom Skagit Island County Contractors Association requesting jobs go to local companies for levee project, 1/13/1979 Corps ltr to County re use of local contractors
Corps Seattle District ltr to Division Engineer (Portland) re Office of the Chief of Engineers ("OCE") Reclassification of Avon Bypass Project  OCE rejected Seattle District request to reclassify the Avon Bypass from a "deferred" to "active" status.  Seattle District did not "wish to rebut the OCE decision on Avon Bypass Project."  . . .  " We support the local assessment of need, and believe the lower Skagit valley is the most serious flood threat in western Washington."  . . .  We are proceeding with base surveys, hydraulic and hydrologic studies for the Mount Vernon to Sedro Woolley reach because this information will be needed for the authorized project, as well as any extension of the authorized work. Foundation and exploration work and detail layouts and estimates will be proceeding after the first of the year.  
12/23/1977 Corps MFR re Skagit River Levees Planning Division needed, " Estimate of the additional cost over the authorized project to improve levees from Mount Vernon to Sedro Woolley".
12/23/1977 Transcription of telephonic conversation between Corps officials Discussion was about how cost estimate of additional levees was to be calculated.  ". . . "The authorization for flood protection on the Skagit River, Washington, contained in Section 203 of the Flood Control Act of 1966, Public Law 89-789, 80 Stat. 1422, is hereby  modified to include levee and channel improvements in the vicinity of Sedro Woolley authorized in Section 5 of the Flood Control Act of 1936, Public Law 738-74tt Congress, at an estimated additional Federal construction cost of $6,000,000."  . . .  "maybe we can simply take a million dollars a mile and go from there."
1/26/1978 Corps MFR re value of land at Burlington Interesting computation of how Corps values property.  Document shows us that when property is protected by a levee its value increases by 25%.  With levee improvements Burlington was valued at $82,000,000.
2/1/1978 Corps MFR re Formulation of Alternatives--Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvement Project

This document walks you through the 1st and 2nd iterations of Corps thinking on proposed projects.

"This project is one part of the comprehensive basin flood control plan. The other two parts are potential upstream storage and the authorized but deferred Avon Bypass (due to lack of local assurances).  . . . Both the Avon Bypass and the upstream storage have serious problems and may never be built."
2/8/1978 Skagit County Flood Control Council Minutes Reactivation of the Council.  Corps stated “considerable right-of-way will be required to construct the Lower Levee Project.”  The project would have allowed the Skagit to carry a 120,000 cfs flood from I-5 to the mouth of the river at a cost of $15,000,000 for construction only.
2/9/1978 Corps MFR re Formulation of Alternatives Early discussion of the hydrology, Sauk River Dam; flooding the Samish; Avon ByPass: and levees for the 1979 levee improvement project.  Hard to see much difference from what is being considered today. 
See also: 5/9/2012 Corps of Engineers GI Study Presentation
2/13/1978 Corps "Fact Sheet" justifying an Amendment to Skagit Levee and Channel Improvement Authority The Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvement Project was authorized by Section 203, Public Law 89-789 dated 7 November 1966 "The Avon Bypass Project was authorized by Section 5, Public Law 74-738, dated 22 June 1936."  It was designed to handle 60,000 cfs, ironically the same amount of cfs that Dike District 12 is currently sending downstream towards Mt. Vernon and Fir Island.
2/22/1978 Corps Amended "Fact Sheet" justifying an Amendment to Skagit Levee and Channel Improvement Authority We expect that the estimated cost, given in the proposed legislation as $12 million, would be offset by an attendant incremental rise in benefits. Based upon updating of information from old reports, the benefit-to cost ratio of the levee extension is about 1.3 to 1. The detailed flood damage appraisal which is being performed as part of the Levee and Channel Improvement Project may increase the flood damage reduction benefits due to increased development in the area. In any event, each levee increment will be economically justified.
3/1978 Corps Public Brochure re Skagit River Levee and Channel Projects See also Public Meeting Transcript and 3/23/78 SVH for a meeting summary.  Pg2...The 100-yr flood at SW is estimated at about 215,000 cfs.  Pg3...The existing levees below Burlington vary in level of protection ... from 84,000 cfs to 130,000 cfs with a minimum 2 ft levee freeboard.  Pg7...The two "PSE" dams on the Baker river provide flood control for the Baker River Basin which amounts to approximately 10% of the Skagit River drainage  ... Skagit River flood damages in Dec 1975 totaled $3,247,000... Skagit County has considered a comprehensive flood control plan to guide future planning and has formed a county-wide flood control district to enable the county to sponsor flood control improvement projects.  (See 1973 Comp Plan Alternatives for the Skagit ) which was clearly never enforced.
3/14/1978 Skagit County ltr to Corps of Engineers Ltr assured the Corps that Skagit County would meet its obligations under the Local Cooperation Agreement.
3/22/1978 Burlington Mayor Letter to Corps of Engineers re Flood Project Alternatives "We need only remind ourselves that Skagit County is valued, for tax purposes, over one billion dollars, a large part of which is subject to flood damage, and that the City of Burlington is valued, for tax purposes, over fifty-five million dollars all of which is subject to flood damage."

According to the City of Burlington the current 2012 total property valuation is $1,202,840,174.  So how much did the flood threat influence/stop development?  Obviously very little if at all.  The commercial development alone ("all of which is subject to flood damage") is $805,453,934 million dollars.  How serious can the flood threat be when this kind of development is allowed?
3/22/1978 County Commissioners Statement at 3/22 public hearing. "We know that a major flood such as has occurred would today be catastrophic, causing extensive damage to property and endangering the lives of our citizens in the flood plain. Flood protection is urgently needed to protect the Skagit Valley and the urban areas containing cities and towns in Skagit County.  The development in the urban areas of Skagit County, together with the sophisticated farming development in Skagit County are in no way compatible with flooding of the area."  Yet even with that knowledge the BCC never objected to all the urban/commercial/residential development that took place after that hearing. 
3/22/1978 County Engineer ltr to Corps re Lower Levee Project "Following six years of study, the Lower Levee Project was approved by Congress in 1966.  Today 12 years later we are beginning to see the reality of that study and are looking forward to construction about 1980."
3/22/1978 Skagit County Flood Control Council ltr to the Corps re Levee Project "The Skagit County Flood Control Council is of the opinion that the Skagit Valley is vulnerable to severe flooding from the Skagit River and that the existing flood protection is inadequate. The Council feels that a flooding of disastrous proportion is eminent, that flooding of this nature will place an economic burden of grave consequence on all of Skagit County."
3/22/1978 Skagit Regional Planning Council Testimony at Corps Public Hearing We know that a major flood such as has occurred would today be catastrophic, causing extensive damage to property and endangering the lives of our citizens in the flood plain. Flood protection is urgently needed to protect the Skagit Valley and the urban areas containing cities and towns in Skagit County.  This is the exact verbiage submitted by the BCC. 
4/1978 Corps Questionnaire to Diking & Drainage Districts Only one answer to this questionnaire has been located in the files as of 1/37/2013.  (See Dike District #3 letter to Corps re Fishers Slough and Responses to Corps Questionnaire Dated April 1978)
4/10/1978 Ltr to Corps fm BNRR re why they were opposed to flood project "Burlington Northern is opposed to raising the heights of levees because it will endanger our bridge and embankments in the vicinity of Burlington, Washington."
4/13/1978 Corps MFR re coordination meeting on GDM on 3/30/1978 The effects of the tide on the floods are being considered as part of their present study. . . . Skagit River is one of the few projects which we have been given a high priority on by the District Engineers. We will be burned unmercifully if we do not fulfill our obligations.

Corp MFR re Field Trip Meeting with Local Officials

Corps officials met with local officials.  Discussed possible alignment for a floodwall at Mt. Vernon.  "Corps would coordinate study with WSDOT for the SR20 freeway along the river.
4/19/1978 Corps MFR re Meeting w/County Officials With Attached Agreement County primarily interested in the available survey data and mapping Corps.
4/21/1978 Corps ltr to Skagit County Engineer re support shown at 3/22/1978 public mtg and needed assistance in coordinating the collection of data “Since we are gathering basic data, the questionnaire is only a guide. If a group knows about some past history, present conditions, or future plans that could affect our project or be affected by it, please have them provide it to us.”
4/27/1978 Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvement Project -- Interim Foundation and Materials ""F&M") Report The existing levees are predominantly fine sands and silty sands of loose-to-medium compaction. Foundation soils are very similar to the levee materials in most cases, and are composed of alluvial and estuarian marine sedimentary deposits consisting of fine sands, silts, and clays, with wood debris and shells.  . . . River-bottom materials investigated consist mostly of sands and silts with seashells, wood debris, and logs, except near the mouth of North Fork. In this area, gravels and bedrock were encountered in the channel bottom between R.M. 3.9 to R.M. 4.2, so additional shallow wash borings were made to define the areal extent of gravels and rock.   '. . . vicinity R.M. 12.5, where debris from a sanitary landfill was encountered.  A/C NOTE:  No analysis or mention of volcanic soils.  What the analysis does show us is that the soils are the same in Sedro-Woolley as they are on Fir Island.
4/28/1978 American Canoe Association ltr to Corps re Skagit River & Channel Improvement Project  "We were pleased that alternative 3 received the greatest support from those attending the hearing.  We would also support alternative 3. Our greatest concern is with alternatives 4 and 6 which include construction of upstream storage facilities on the Sauk River."  A/C NOTE:  Very opposed to Sauk River Dam project.  
6/1978 WSDOT State route 20--Interstate 5 to Sedro Woolley “The valley is subject to flooding, but floods have been mitigated to some extent, by a series of large hydroelectric dams on the upper Skagit and diking of the lower flood plain around Sedro Woolley, Burlington and Mt. Vernon. ...
The Skagit River Delta was first used for agriculture during the 1860's. Farmers built dikes in order to reclaim cropland. Loggers moved up the river, clearing log jams and cutting timber in the valley as they went. The fertile valley around Burlington and Sedro Woolley was settled by farmers, and the towns grew in order to provide the farmers with services. Agriculture, food processing, and logging are still the most important factors in the area's economy.”
6/6/1978| Corps MFR re Hydrology and Hydraulic Analysis “It appears the frequency curve will probably be adjusted to somewhere between the frequency curve from the Upper Baker report and the frequency curve which was recently developed. Based on the recent frequency carve, respective_10-,50-,100-, and 500-year floods are 147,000 c.f.s., 204,000 c.f.s., 228,000 c.f.s., and 299,000 c.f.s.”  A/C Note:  Concrete or SW?. . . . “Mr. Hogan stated that he does not want the plan which we propose to aggravate flooding anywhere else along the river.  . . . Ballpark-hydrology will be provided to hydraulics for their use, with solid hydrology available by the end of July.”
6/20/1978 Corps MFR re Field review of Skagit River Levees “Backwater profiles will be updated for Phase I and Phase 11 studies.  In the next few weeks and all backwaters will be Corps of Engineers , responsibility.  . . .  It will be necessary for the A-E to investigate the necessity of riprap protection where the levee toe infringes on the channel or overlaps into the toe of the existing riverbank.”
6/30/1978 Corps MFR re coordination mtg with Skagit County Dike Districts up to this point at least did not cooperate with Corps for information.  Only answer up to this point that we have identified was Dike District #3 (Please see 6/26/1978 Dike District #3 letter to Corps re Fishers Slough and Responses to Corps Questionnaire Dated April 1978)  Corps determined it was less expensive to raise the existing dikes than to build a new 100-year cutoff levee across the Big Bend.  Corps "determined that if a levee were constructed riverward of the Moose Hall, it would cost approximately $350,000 more than a levee constructed landward of the Moose Hall."
7/3/1978 BNRR ltr to Corps re Bridge #36 "One of the men who worked in this office and who is now retired remembers in the early 50s when flood waters almost crossed our track at about the point where the dike comes into our embankment at right angles several hundred feet north of our bridge over the Skagit River. At the time of the flood, our maintenance forces raised track and built up the shoulder of the embankment to keep flood waters from crossing our track."
7/21/1978 Corps MFR re Hydraulic Studies "In the overflow areas; sheet-flow is indicated with a maximum depth of one foot.' . . . The 50-year tide at Skagit Bay is ponded 6' deep, compared to 8' at Padilla Bay.  . . . Vogler says that 100-year flood depth for an area upstream from Mt. Vernon has been lowered from 35 feet to 31 feet in our previous FIS.
7/28/1978 Corps routing slip with attached 100 yr flood levels with levees from SW to Fir Island 100 yr flood levels with levees from Sedro-Woolley to Fir Island.  Levee height at SW would have been almost 50 ft. elevation.  Compare these elevatons to what was observed during the 1995 flood event.  See Skagit Surveyors & Engineers 1995 Flood Elevations,
8/2/1978 Corps MFR re Interior Drainage It was tentatively concluded that since the Corps project in the agricultural areas would not significantly alter existing drainage patterns or enlarge ponding areas, there would be no need for flowage easements in the lower basin and no need for exact detail in defining areas.
8/7/1978 Corps MFR re Seepage General discussion was then conducted on the seepage associated with the Skagit Levee and Channel Improvements Project.  . . . is there a legal problem, because Federal dollars would be used in continuing a possible illegal situation (i.e., landowners being flooded by existing ponding areas?  Vern Cook stated that he had talked to Office of Counsel on 1 August 1978 and that the response to that question is "NO". Any claim that a landowner might have had has long ago gone by the board. In regards to the interior/drainage for the agricultural lands, the GDM will contain the rationale for confirming that the interior drainage runoff, rainfall plus seepage, does not cause significant flooding, which would negate the benefits realized from the levee improvement project.  For the urban levees, where we will be blocking the existing drainage channels, a more rigorous determination will be required.  See 5/2/1979 NPD MFR re induced damages and requirement of local governments to purchase flowage easements.  See also 4/13/1979 NPD Portland MFR referencing 3/13/1979 Portland Headquarters comments on Seattle District draft GDM and mtg with General Wells re discussion on Draft GDM. and Flowage Easements
8/17/1978 Corps DF re cost estimates Recommended segments of levees to prevent overflow to Samish.  . . . They will not try to eliminate or even significantly reduce the existing seepage since in this area there is significant lag time, and we do not have a Marmes-type situation.  . . .
8/21/1978 Dept. of Fisheries memo to Corps re Project DOF has a number of salmon enhancement programs planned for the Skagit River Basin.  . . . Skagit Hatchery--Spring Chinook egg takes for 1976 and 1977 were 30 ; 000 and 170,000 respectively. Summer Chinook egg takes for corresponding years were about 400,000 annually. . . . Chum salmon about 25 million, the eggs to be taken from native stocks.  Baker River Hatchery -- 2.5 million Coho smolts and 10 million chum (chum to be put into Nooksack River, Coho to Skagit.)  “Presently there is a fry stranding problem in the lower Skagit which results from peaking hydroelectric dam discharge. During the spring juveniles become trapped along sand bars and perish as the river recedes. Stream bank modification resulting in alteration of geo-hydraulic patterns could create additional sand bars, providing additional stranding areas.”
8/21/1978 Corps MFR re Project Meeting to Discuss Project Hydraulics "Purpose of the meeting was to review the hydraulics work that has been accomplished to date and decide on what additional work will be required.  . . . The basic assumption made in the analysis was that levee failure would occur when the water surface was 2 feet below the top of the levee.  50-yr flood at Mt. Vernon 160,500 cfs; 100-yr flood 185,000 cfs levee breaks at Avon.  The runs shown were clearly before the Corps realized that the flood waters did not go between Burlington and Sterling Hills.
8/21/1978 Corps MFR re Project Meeting to Discuss Project Hydraulics with attached maps showing assumed levee breaks “The purpose of the meeting was to review the hydraulics work that has been accomplished to date and decide on what additional work will be required.” ... “The basic assumption made in the analysis was that levee failure would occur when the water surface was 2 feet below the top of the levee.”  . . .“Existing conditions at Mt. Vernon  . . .94,000 cfs river stays in bank; 120,000 cfs Fir Island fails; 130,000 cfs flooding in downtown MV; . . . 50 yr. 160,000 cfs overflow to the Samish and additional breaks right bank near railroad bridge and left bank into Big Bend (DIKE 17); 100 year 185,000 breaks through Avon”...“It was concluded that we should consider closing off Avon with high levees while keeping the Samish open.”  However, the case of closing off both the Samish and Avon was eliminated because of the extreme increase in downstream flows and the associated impacts.  NOTE:  Map shows 100 yr. flood at SW as 229,000 cfs.
8/21/1978 Corps Memo re Determination of Land Values and Relocation Cost References 8/2/1977 DF and discussion held on 8/16/1978.  “Estimates of relocation costs should be determined using most likely course of action (i.e., demolition and removal, relocation, etc.) in e4ach particular case.”  . . .“direct charges not to exceed $2,400...”
8/22/1978 MFR Re: Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvement Project - Meetings With Local Officials [About Flood Risk to Burlington & Sedro-Woolley] “Mr. Hansen said that, in the past, downtown Burlington had usually not been flooded. We discussed what would happen under existing conditions, and both agreed that the danger to Burlington comes from the existing dike being encircled by a flood which would then get into Gages Slough and flow through the city of Burlington and then toward Avon or Samish Bay.”
8/23/1978 USACE MFR re Meeting with local sponsor We also talked about the problems of Skagit overflow to the Samish, potential levee alignments, channel excavation locations and the briefing of the new Skagit County Engineer, Gene Sandley, on 28 August.
8/24/1978 USACE ZERO DAMAGE compilation in cfs Samish River basin 140,000 cfs, Riverbend 142,000; Fir Island 100,000 cfs; Downtown MT Vernon 123,000.  Remember all these figures are in 1978 based on the condition of the levees at that timeNOTE:  No damage figures shown for Sterling, Clearlake or Nookachamps.
8/24/1978 USACE ltr to Elverfeld Construction, Inc re info on proposed flood control measures "Construction of all of the levees would probably involve two or more separate contracts, with the first construction starting in spring or summer of 1980. The construction work would take about 3 years to complete."
8/25/1978 USACE draft notes on Alternatives "Public input received at the public meeting was almost entirely in favor of detailed studies being undertaken for alternative #3."  Alternative 3 was then divided into 4 separate alternatives which later became 5 alternatives.  "The sketches also show the discharge values at Sedro Woolley, at Mt. Vernon, North and South Forks, and the overflows to the Samish basin and at Avon."  Based on the 100 year event.  Had attached table showing cost and lineal feet of levees that were under consideration.  "MUCH OF THE COUNTIES TAXING BASE RELYS ON THIS WATER.(Anacortes Water Treatment Plant)  Shows 100 yr flood as 225,000 to 229,000 cfs at SW,
8/25/1978 Washington State Department of Game ltr to USACE re Comments on Game Fish Concerns "We are not able to calculate game fish catches for your project area specifically nor are we in a position to provide escapement numbers.  . . .  Steelhead are the most intensively sought after and economically valuable game fish using the project area: In past years, more steelhead were harvested in Skagit River fisheries than from any other stream in Western Washington. Others, including sea-run cutthroat and Dolly Varden char, generate substantial additional value and public interest. Annual Skagit Basin steelhead catch, over past 16 seasons, has averaged 14,000. This harvest has ranged to over 22,000 during peak seasons under favorable survival conditions.  . . .  Department of Game has substantial plans for enhancement and restoration of game fish resources of Skagit Basin. Present goals for our Barnaby-Harrison Slough facility include a 25 percent increase in winter-run steelhead and a sixfold increase in summer steelhead smolt production. We have recently developed a rearing facility on Sauk River to enhance late returning wild stock returns to that system. Collectively these plans, if successful, will more than double the total adult steelhead return to Skagit Basin.  As you may be aware, existing hydroelectric developments in Skagit Basin are causing severe damages to wild fish production.
8/28/1978 USACE MFR re bi-weekly review mtg " It was noted that Alternative 3B - Ring Dike for Burlington, West Mt. Vernon and Mt. Vernon (Avon High and Samish Low) was the most probable alternative at this point in the formulation.
8/28/1978 USACE routing slip re alternative 3B Values reported included 2 ft of freeboard and 1.8 ft maximum sediment allowance.
8/31/1978 USACE MFR re mtg with local sponsor The briefing covered the history of water resources development in the lower Skagit basin including Upper Baker Dam, the Avon Bypass and the presently authorized Levee and Channel Improvement Project. The sequence of steps leading to the construction of the project was also covered as it relates to the proposed legislation to extend the authorized project. Specific project details which were then covered included alternative levee alignments; alternatives for protection of the Mt. Vernon Moose Hall; local cooperation requirements particularly relocations, lands and easements and the timing of these requirements; potential recreation development as part of the levee project and timing of local workshops and public meetings.
9/5/1978 USACE DF re Environmental Input to Design of Downstream Levees Of major concern to the resource agencies is the placement of riprap into the -river as it modifies shoreline habitat and can be detrimental to salmon resources for which the shore zone is the primary migration and rearing area. A second major concern is the removal of existing riparian vegetation which provides food cover and other benefits to fish and wildlife. These concerns are the basis for which the following recommendations are made. In developing them, it has been assumed that there will be no channel improvements on the North Fork or on Freshwater Slough.  . . .  1) That a minimal amount of riprap be placed into the river.  2) That in certain cases where the placement of riprap is necessary, a relatively large size be utilized in -the river to provide some replacement of habitat for fish.  That riprap placement he avoided on the inside bank of bends in the river.  These areas provide shallow, lower velocity resting and rearing areas for migrating juvenile salmonids.
9/5/1978 USACE Environmental Input to Design of Downstream Levees and Field Notes fm 8/30/1978 Field Trip It appears that all the Corps did was mirror the comments of the fish and game people.  See Dept. of Fisheries memo to Corps re Project and Washington State Department of Game ltr to USACE re Comments on Game Fish Concerns
9/15/1978 Corps MFR re 3rd Biweekly Review Meeting for Skagit Levee Channel Improvement Project "The latest negotiations with the Fish and Wildlife Service have resulted in the projected submittal of their draft report in conformance with the project schedule. . . . Available information will be furnished to the Fish and Wildlife Service and they will have another 60 days to complete their evaluation, which means it will not be completed until mid-November (1978) after the draft EIS is scheduled for completion."     (See USFW Final Report to Corps  dated 4/6/1979.)  "Writing of the report has not started."   
9/18/1978 Corps Hydrology Division 100 year flood water surface profiles with Avon blocked off and Samish flow controlled by weir River levels for 100-year flood from Sedro-Woolley to Fir Island.  Compare this document to Skagit Surveyors & Engineers 1995 Flood Elevations. and 1977 Corps "River Mile" maps.
9/19/1978 USACE notes re project assignments “This project has been designated high priority.”
9/21/1978 USACE MFR re Project meeting to Discuss Real Estate Input “USACE MFR re Project meeting to Discuss Real Estate Input”
9/29/1978 Corps MFR re 4th Biweekly Review Meeting for Skagit Levee Channel Improvement Project "Hydraulics is currently running the 50-year water surface for Samish weired Avon closed and downstream levee improvements.  . . .The modification of Alternative 3b with the Samish weired is now the preliminary selected plan."
10/1978 Corps Draft Inventory of Wetlands Lower Skagit River Lots of discussion concerning what the different types of wetlands are however in my personal opinion the worst "inventory" of wetlands I have ever read.  Basically they identified "Skagit Flats, South Fork Skagit River Delta; Fir Island and Upriver Cutoff Sloughs; Hart Island; DeBays Slough; and the Skagit River.  The only mention of Gages Slough, the old channel of the Skagit River is found in paragraph 81:   Fir Island, located between the north and south forks of the Skagit River, is bisected by several sloughs which no longer carry running water except in times of flood. Upriver are several similar areas, in particular Britt and Gages Sloughs. Each slough is a complex pattern of open water ponds, Phalaris dominated dry beds, and wooded channels. These various units are connected by culverts beneath roads and driveways which are often too high to allow year-round water flow."  What a waste of taxpayer's money.
10/2/1978 Corps MFR re problems with downstream levee project "Several weeks ago the 120,000 cfs profile +6 feet case was selected for the top of levee.  However, this did not include allowances for wave action and super elevation."  Identified solutions for Fisher Slough:  " (1) Place levee on outside of railroad, leave road and railroad as is and install pumping plant gravity drain through the levee; (2) raise existing levees on Fisher Slough as required and raise road and railroad to pass over levees (similar to the scoping analysis by the A/E); and (3) raise the existing levees on Fisher Slough as required, put gates/ stoplogs and/or flood fight gaps at road and railroad levee crossings and modify bridges to reduce impediment to flow."
10/4/1978 Corps MFR re field trip to Skagit County for purpose of identifying recreation sites "Mr. Aarstad and Mr. Nelson suggested two sites which they considered to receive top priority.  One site is located between the communities of Mount Vernon and Burlington and it is intersected by a Burlington Northern railroad bridge. The second area is owned by Skagit County and is adjacent to the community of Conway on the South Fork of the river."  . . .  Mr. Nelson also emphasized the importance of providing future recreational opportunities in Lions Park. The potential floodwall or levee in the park area could seriously disrupt the usage of the facility."  Document contains observations of all the sites.
10/6/1978 Corps Gross Appraisal on Skagit River Levee. . .(Burlington Area) Reconnaissance Studies "Good level farm land inside the flood plain sells for $2,500 to $3,500 per acre.  Building lots ready for construction sell for $10,000 per site.  Average sites contain 10,000 square feet.  Commercial land sells for $40,000 per acre or $1.00 per square foot."
10/16/1978 Corps handwritten notes depicting the history of the decision making process of the 1979 levee project This document presents us with a great look into the evolution of the Corps thought process for the Skagit Levee Process.
10/27/1978 Corps MFR re Fifth Bi-Weekly Meeting Good discussion on how the District handles problems when they don't know what the President or Congress is going to do.
10/30/1978 Corps MFR re Sixth Bi-Weekly Meeting "Vern Cook brought up a question that was raised at the meeting with the County Engineer concerning the county's liability for areas between the levees where the depth of flooding will be increased. It was concluded that there is an undefined liability that must be considered and it would be a part of the county's local cooperation responsibility.  We would be required to furnish the county data on the additional flooding heights and they would be responsible for securing the necessary easements. It was noted that the largest impact area would be the trailer court at Mount Vernon."
11/1/1978 Corps MFR re 10/27/1978 mtg with Skagit County ". . .discussed the FY 1979 Appropriations Bill and the 1978 Omnibus Bill. President Carter signed the substitute FY 1979 Appropriations Bill and this will cause no impact on the Skagit project. The Omnibus Bill, which contained additional legislation for the Skagit project, did not pass Congress this session.  . . .five different ways to proceed. . . questions dealt with how the county was going to raise cash for their part of the project and, if bonds are issued, details concerning the county's bonding limit and other bonds currently outstanding.  . . . (Subsequent to the meeting, Mr. Nelson requested that we brief the county commissioners prior to the meeting with the flood control council.)  . . . "  NOTE:  Isn't a mtg with two or more commissioners on a public project supposed to be considered a public meeting?
11/3/1978 Corps letter to Skagit Valley Herald re Alternative #3E The attached map is the first know map of Alternative #3E which is what the voters turned down in 1979 and what the Dike Districts are currently trying to ram down the throats (and pocketbooks) of the people of Skagit County today. 
See Also: 11/7/79 SVH, Decisive defeat at polls –Flood control future unclear
11/6/1978 Corps letter to Dike District 12 re river cross sections above and below BNSF bridge It will be interesting to see how many changes there will be with new maps for the new project.
11/7/1978 Corps MFR re mtg with BCC and staff as well as a mtg with the Flood Control Council (Diking & Drainage Districts only) Ray Skrinde (former corps employee) and Lloyd Johnson (former County Engineer) were presented as "consultants" to the County".
11/7/1978 Corps MFR re mtg with County on 11/3/1978 "Mr. Sampley and Mr. Nelson said that what little reaction they had received since the 1 November 1978 meeting of the Skagit Flood Control Council was favorable."
11/9/1978 Corps MFR re Interior Drainage Three solutions for Fisher Slough..  "c.  Rebuild the floodgates in Fisher Slough, improve the creek levees as necessary to handle the Carpenter Creek flow, and add a controlled ponding area."  (See Fisher Slough Fact Sheet and Fisher Slough Project Maps dated 2/2009).
11/13/1978 Corps Telephone Conversation Record Skagit County did not want greater than 10-15 year protection for ag land because higher protection would make it more difficult to restrict development of the farmland.
11/15/1978 Corps MFR re Flood Plain Development ". . .county records show that between 1973 and March 1978, 15 residential structures were built and five mobile homes were located on agriculturally zoned flood plain land in the Avon area. No attempt at flood proofing was evident to me from a quick look at these structures.  In addition to the Avon area, development in the flood plain is currently taking place in west Mount Vernon (commercial and residential), George Hopper I-5 interchange, just north of Mount Vernon city limits (commercial), and in east Burlington (residential). With the exception of the George Hopper interchange area and east Burlington, which are expected to develop faster with flood protection, our project is not expected to induce flood plain development."
11/18/1978 COE legal opinion re liability issues for induce flooding "The alternative that will probably be selected as the recommended plan involves improving the levee system in the Skagit River downstream of Mount Vernon to provide protection from the 50-year Skagit flood, and improving the levees at Mount Vernon and Burlington to provide 100-year protection to the urban areas."  Under the statute cited liability on the US would not be created...However... the dike might establish liability on the part of the local cooperating agency ... "
11/20/1978 Corps Rough Draft of Chapter 3 of DEIS "...fill would no longer be required. Hanson said that in the past developers have maintained that fill costs have made it too expensive to build in Burlington and therefore some increase in building activity might be expected with the flood protection.  The portion of Burlington near the freeway is the lowest, and therefore has required the most fill in the past (six feet in some places).
11/21/1978 Corps Seattle District ltr to Division Engineer re status of Levee Project "The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the course of action we are following in the advance engineering and design of the Skagit Levee and Channel Improvement Project in order to maintain the scheduled construction start in Fiscal Year 1980.  . . . The most desirable plan is to increase the level of protection for agricultural areas downstream of Mount Vernon to approximately 50-year protection and provide 100-year or more protection to the urban areas of Burlington and Mount Vernon."  This document shows that the Corps did not have authorization to build the project.
12/1978 USACE Levee Improvement Study Studygram December 1978 Analysis of proposals to improve levees from the 3-Bridge Corridor to the delta for the 1979 Levee Improvement proposals that failed at the polls.  One alternative, 3D, would provide, “29,700 acres of land with “rural protection (50-year), and 22,000 acres of land would be provided urban protection (100-year). The project would prevent 100-year Skagit floods from overflow to the Samish. However, flooding would still occur due to Samish River flows on 14,500 acres. The Nookachamps-Clear Lake area would experience an increase in the 100-year water surface elevation of about 4.5 feet. 
See also:
1979 Levee Improvement Project Historical Index
12/12/1978 Division Engineer to Seattle District re conf call with Headquarters in WA DC. "Specific Congressional authority will be required to extend the Skagit River Levee project upstream to provide urban flood protection to the Burlington and Sedro Woolley areas."
12/12/1978 Corps MFR re mtg w/US Fish and Wildlife Other ideas for mitigation discussed were the establishment of a preservation area where the land is currently reverting to wetlands on the right bank of the North Fork just south of the North Fork bridge around Station 1000 and the reestablishment of a riparian vegetation zone on the left bank of the South Fork on Georgia Pacific Corporation's island (Stations 1150-1040).
12/13/1978 News article SVH "Local levee share Engineer says closer to 3 million." Skagit County's share of the bill for Army Corps of Engineers levee improvements on the Skagit River is closer to $3 million than the $10 million announced by the Corps last week,   . . .A letter to the Corps also requests that the total project be broken down to smaller increments so that local contractors can bid and perhaps benefit the local construction industry, Sampley said."
12/15/1978 Corps Seattle District request of Portland District for more money Project "...would provide 100-year or more flood protection fr urban areas and lesser protection (about 50 years) for rural areas."  This increased the federal cost of the project from "$16,300,000 to about $45,000,000."  Also increased benefit to cost ratio from about 1.5 to 2.5."
12/18/1978 Corps MFR re mtg w/Skagit County Officials Recreational facilities were discussed.  Bike trails were removed.  County flood engineer presented Corps with letter fm Barb Austin re additional flooding in the Nookachamps.  Mt. Vernon wanted to know what effect will the project have on building codes or insurance.  Corps did not have answers on local cost.
12/20/1978 George Dynes ltr to Corps re Levee and Channel Improvements “My own personal feelings are at this time for the money that I feel will be available on a Federal Level, that we should go back to Alternate #2 or Low Levees with the extension of the Levees from Burlington to Sedro Woolley.”
See Also: 12/20/1978 Partial Transcript of Corps Skagit Public Workshop
12/20/1978 Corps Colonel directive to staff re completion of Draft GDM Corps Colonel directive to staff re completion of Draft GDM.
See Also: 12/20/1978 Partial Transcript of Corps Skagit Public Workshop
12/20/1978 Soil Conservation District ltr to Corps “Consideration needs to be given to those who will sustain damage due to the additional flood waters in that area.”
See Also: 12/20/1978 Partial Transcript of Corps Skagit Public Workshop 
12/22/1978 Corp Study Cost Estimate “Prepare an estimate of the time and money required to more accurately determine the with and without project (3E) in the Nookachamps-Clear Lake area and to evaluate alternative flood damage reduction measures or that area and others that lie between the proposed levees.”
12/22/1978 County ltr to Barbara Austin re impacts on Nookachamps (1 to 2 feet of extra water.). “We assure you the Skagit County Commissioners, the Skagit County Engineers and the Army Corps of Engineers are responding to this concern.”
See also: Graphic Summary of Increases in 1990 Flood Levels Due to Levee System
12/27/1978 Johnson Dairy ltr to Corps re impacts to Nookachamps For flood protection to be totally effective on the Skagit, Alternative 2 low levees combined with either upstream storage or Avon bypass channel must be constructed.
1979 Non-Structural Alternatives Computation of what the annual cost/benefits would be for non-structural approach.
1/2/1979 Skagit County BCC ltr to Corps Seattle District re Skagit River Lower Levee Project -- Nookachamps Study Request As a result of the public meeting held December 20, 1978 in Mount Vernon regarding the Lower Levee Project, Skagit County does hereby request the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform a study of the Nookachamps area in which backwater from the Skagit affects this area in flood stage as a result of the Lower Levee Project.
1/3/1979 Corps Task Force Meeting Minutes One room was dedicated to just materials for the GDM.  They had $700,000 for FY 1979.
1/11/1979 Corps MFR re Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvements MFR describes 3 mtgs: Al Swif in his Everett office, a luncheon with the Elks Club, and the County Commissioners .  Corps gave Congressman draft legislation for 79 Omnibus Bill on Skagit.  Congressman told Elks Club mtg that they had to choose between levee improvements, Avon Bypass or Sauk Dam because only one stood a chance of making it through Congress.
1/11/1979 Corps Frequency Curve for the Skagit River near Mt. Vernon using unsteady flow model. Unregulated curve was based upon 52 years of gage readings, Stewarts 1815, 1856, 1909, 1917 and 1921 estimates and bulletin 17A.  Regulated curve based upon 120,000 acre feet at Ross and 74,000 at Upper Baker; observed regulation of dams after 1959 for discharges less than 100,000 cfs; regulation of dams discharge greater than 90,000 cfs at Concrete.  All waters over 150,000 cfs flow toward the Samish.
1/13/1979 Corps ltr to County re use of local contractors Corps tells county they will give full consideration to using local contractors.  Corps wanted meeting with local contractors to discuss bidding process in the fall of 1979 as by that time more detail would be available.  County wanted payback plan to be over 50 years.  Corps provided draft legislation to county for congressional approval. 
See also:  11/15/1977 Ltr to Corps fm Whatcom Skagit Island County Contractors Association requesting jobs go to local companies for levee project, 11/29/1977 Corps response ltr to Whatcom-Skagit-Island Contractors Association 
1/15/1979 Corps Seattle District ltr to Division Engineer in Portland re City of Seattle's application for a new major license for Skagit River Project Seattle District states "Article 36 requires the licensee to provide 120,000 acre-feet of flood control storage between October 1 to March 15.  By reference Article 36 included "Details of Regulation for Use of Storage Allocated for Flood Control in Ross Reservoir, Skagit River Washington revised May 25, 1967.  Reference states that "In the event that the high dam is constructed at Ross (1725-foot pool) or any appreciable change in the economic development of the valley takes place which would necessitate a lower control flow at Concrete, a maximum of 180,000 acre feet of flood control storage may be requiredCorps confirmed the need for 180,000 behind Ross Reservoir."
1/30/1979 Corps MFR re Skagit River Levee Study, Nookachamps/Clear Lake Area "The project would have no affect (sic) on water levels of flood events equal to or less than that which occurred in December 1975. Should another flood equal in magnitude to the one in February 1951 recur with the proposed project, the Nookachamps/Clear Lake area may experience about 1/2-foot higher water levels.  The proposed project is estimated to induce about 1-1/2-foot higher flood stages to the hypothetical 50-year and 100-year floods."
See also: 12/1982
Dames & Moore Report, Graphic Summary of Increases in 1990 Flood Levels Due to Levee System, Skagit Surveyors & Engineers 1995 Flood Elevations
1/31/1979 Skagit System Cooperative ltr to Corps re Levee Impacts on the Fishery Resource "The interest of the Skagit System Cooperative is to maintain natural production of salmonids in the Skagit basin at least at the present levels. In fact, some populations are gradually increasing."
2/2/1979 Corps MFR re Field Reconnaissance of Nookachamps Area on Skagit River "The high-water elevations were estimated to be about 41.7 feet for 1951 high water and 39.8 feet for 1975. (Estimated water levels are: 42.5 feet for 100-year flood without project, 44 feet for 100-year flood with project at day 1, and 44.5 feet for 100-year flood at end of project life.)"  . . .  Mr. and Mrs. Don Austin told about having 3 inches of water in their house in 1951 and in 1921 water was up to the window sill (about 2 feet of water in the house). "
2/7/1979 Corps ltr to Portland Office3 (Division Headquarters) RE a draft copy of the GDM Skagit County (along with other local governments and groups), is a strong supporter of the proposed project and has obtained solid support from both Senators Magnuson and Jackson along with Congressman Al Swift. A Skagit County Commissioner will be in Washington, D.C., during the week of 5 February talking to the Washington Congressional Delegation to gain support for construction funding in FY 1980.  . . . 6. There has been no organized opposition to the project.
2/7/1979 Seattle District MFR to Portland District RE: Status of Studies "Increased level of flood protection for MV to standard project flood (SPF) level and other urban areas to 100-year or more without threat of catastrophic flooding for floods up to SPF.  ... Estimated total cost about $55,000,000. ... Just upstream of suburban area of Avon a reduced freeboard area will be provided that would permit overtopping prior to other urban levees being overtopped  ... By raising the levee height 0.4 foot around Mount Vernon, standard project flood protection has been provided."  There will be 2 feet of clearance under the BNRR bridge during the 100-year event after allowances for bridge swellhead and debris blockage are included.
3/8/1979 Skagit County Cooperative Extension Memo re Outline for Critical Evaluation of Corps Project

D. Effect on EQUITY

 - Who benefits from the project alternative, and who bears its costs?  (Project alternatives involve the shifting of risk and exposure from one group to another, such as, exposure to a rise in 100 year water surface elevation.)


 - Is the project alternative politically feasible?  - Are the equity impacts of the project considered fair?  - Is accomplishment of the project goals considered worth the local share of implementation and annual management costs?

3/9/1979 Corps Seattle District Ltr to North Pacific Division re Additional Funding The $113,000 was used to complete preliminary review of all alternatives within the area affected by the project. The 267,000 is being used to template the expanded scope of general design memorandum (GDM) studies in the project area due to increased levels of flood protection.  During the time from mid-December 1978 to early February 1979, much of the technical work on the GDM was being completed. A public meeting on the final alternatives was held 20 December 1978 which resulted in a selected plan. ; the local sponsor called a special meeting on 8 January 1979 which resulted in requests for supplemental studies for the Nookachamps area and areas riverward of the proposed levees at West Mount Vernon and Sterling.   . . .  Additional authority will be needed to construct the selected plan of improvement.
3/10/1979 Corps new language for draft GDM Elimination of Channel Improvements:  The authorized project recommended channel improvements (excavation and widening) to increase the hydraulic capacity of the Skagit River below MV. . . . Total proposed excavation was $1,466,600 cu yds over a total length of 2.5 miles. . . . The channelization features of the authorized project met with opposition from resource agencies and members of the public.  . . .  Major environmental impacts. . . to fisheries due to the loss of shallow vegetated shore zone habitat, critical rearing area for juvenile anadromous fish during their out migration; impacts to water quality. . . alteration of sediment deposition patterns as a result of channelization. . . . any significant impacts to fisheries as a result of the propose channel improvements.  Loss of fish could impact upriver Bald Eagles.  Channel improvements also would have unacceptable impacts on set net fishing areas used by the Swinomish Indian Tribe below the North Fork.
3/12/1979 Ltr to Town of Hamilton fm Corps study manager re impacts of proposed project on Hamilton. "The backwater effects from the Skagit levee project on Skagit River floodflows diminish rapidly upstream from the project and zero out at approximately river mile 26.0 which is just upstream of Sedro Woolley. The town of Hamilton is at approximately river mile 40.0 so the town would he approximately 14.0 miles upstream from the end of env project effects."
3/23/1979 Portland Headquarters comments on Seattle District draft GDM The Standard Project Flood (SPF) discharge at Sedro Woolley is 397,000 second-feet.  The final GDM should address the economic feasibility of providing SPF protection for urban areas. . . . The GDM and EIS presently recommend a plan that OCE has ruled is beyond the discretionary authority of the Chief of Engineers. Although authorization of this plan may be provided by Congress in the near future, OCE indicates that they would process the report in a normal manner in the event that this does not occur. Accordingly, the u:-1 and EIS must he revised to support ) ,A staged construction that can be started in FY 1980 and result in a completed project also protecting Burlington. OCE feels that the 1-5 bridge is the approximate upstream limit to OCE's authority to approve changes in scope.  . . . 3. We also recognize-that we must consider the problem of induced flooding when a levee is constructed on one bank. For this reason, the district may choose to .recommend maintaining equal levels of protection on adjacent banks without an economic analysis as described above. Such a recommendation must be supported in the final GDM as to why this economic analysis of subareas is not appropriate.
3/28/1979 Corps draft page for GDM re Diking District's “Chart shows us the Corps estimate of what the levees could withstand in 1979.  Dike District 12 was 142,000 cfs, Dike 17 was 135,000 cfs.  In 1990 and 1995 the Skagit River experienced 152,000 cfs and 141,000 cfs respectively between the two Dike Districts.”
See also: Historic Flood Flows of the Skagit River 
4/4/1979 Ltr fm Skagit Conservation District to County Commissioners re Alternative 3E of Corps Project The SCD was opposed to forcing floodwaters into the Samish Valley.  Their plan provided three other areas to "let nature choose where the excess of 50-yr flood flows" ...Fir Island, Avon Bend & Sterling.  No indication who represented Mother Nature at the SCD meeting.
4/11/1979 Corps Transmittal Slip re BCC concern over ltr fm SCD and project manager stopping by before pig roast. "They do not want the Samish to be a relief valve for the whole Skagit system and do not want a weir."
See also: 4/4/1979
Ltr fm Skagit Conservation District to County Commissioners re Alternative 3E of Corps Project
4/13/1979 NPD Portland MFR referencing 3/13/1979 Portland Headquarters comments on Seattle District draft GDM and mtg with General Wells re discussion on Draft GDM. “Discussion included a control structure at Avon Bend to discharge flows exceeding the 100-year event; requiring flowage easements downstream of Avon; independent plans for Stanwood; and adding recreation as a project purpose.”
See also:
3/23/1979 Portland Headquarters comments on Seattle District draft GDM
4/20/1979 Ltr fm Portland District to Seattle District re Skagit River Levee and Channel Improvements Project was not authorized to include Burlington but because downstream work would have "significant induced damages" on Burlington, the city was included.
4/30/1979 Ltr fm Seattle District to Portland District re copies of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) 100 yr protection to Urban areas, 50 year for rural.  Total estimated cost $50,270,000.  $40,720,000 federal cost, rest local.  Benefit-cost ratio was 1.4 to 1
5/2/1979 NPD MFR re induced damages and requirement of local governments to purchase flowage easements "Compensatory measures may consist either of engineering remedies or of payment for damages caused."  . . ."there is a Federal interest in identifying 'expected detrimental effects of project implementation. In addition a plan to mitigate these effects should be formulated. In formulating a plan, consideration should be given to structural solutions when practicable and economical, as well as, easements and/or requiring the local interests to hold and save."
5/8/1979 Seattle District Floodplain Management Section comments on DEIS Determined that "50-year protection will increase the pressures for development."
5/8/1979 Nookachamps/Clear Lake, Sterling, Lower Sedro Woolley and West Mt. Vernon Structural and Non-Structural Alternative Studies Report references Corps MFR re Field Reconnaissance of Nookachamps Area on Skagit River  Levees were looked at for both Sterling and Nookachamps.  Rejected in part to additional cost of raising downstream levees for loss of the "reservoir space".
5/9/1979 Washington State Parks & Recreation Commission comment ltr on DEIS Project would have no impacts on property owned by Commission.
5/11/1979 Telephone or Verbal Conversation Record from FEMA to Corps FEMA was going to blast the DEIS due to the fact that it violated Section 3(a) of EO 11988 by raising water on unprotected lands i.e. Nookachamps.
5/14/1979 Corps ltr to Barbara McNair re her questions concerning market value of real estate on impacted properties from project Corps response was typical bureaucratic non-speak.  "The final plan to be recommended by the District Engineer at completion of current studies has not been determined. Suggestions, comments, and recommendations which are brought to our attention through workshop meetings, letters; and even the final public meeting to be held on 19 June at Mount Vernon, will all contribute to development of what will become the recommended plan".
5/14/1979 Corps ltr to Barbara Austin re her questions about water levels, with attachment Answer to question #2 shows 50 yr. flood at 37.2 at Mt. Vernon.  In 1990 and 1995 the Mt. Vernon gauge was at 37.3.  100 yr flood at 37.7.  Answer to question #5 states 1975 flood was 41.6 feet on SW gauge.  In 1995 the river level was at a minimum 41.9 feet.  Levee btwn SW & Burlington would raise flood levels 4 feet in Sterling & Nookachamps.
5/17/1979 Corps handwritten notes concerning discussion of mitigating measures in unleveed areas Would raise homes 1 ft. above new 100 yr fld level.  Proposed same for Nookachamps.  Levee in Clear Lake would destroy 3 homes.
5/17/1979 Corps handwritten notes concerning meeting with Skagit County County wanted District Line Road raised in "swale" (i.e. Gages Slough).  Elevation 44 feet.  County wanted to drop recreation at 3 sites.
5/23/1979 US Dept. of Agriculture comment letter to Corps re DEIS "The economic wellbeing of the agricultural community is very dependent on drainage improvements."  "Considerable seepage now occurs through several reaches of dike during high river flows."  "The magnitude of a weir that will spill 60,000 cubic feet per second during a 100-year flood event should be more adequately addressed...". . .Farmers should have the opportunity to install subsurface drainage system's in proposed ponding areas before dikes are constructed north and west of Burlington."5/23
5/23/1979 WSDOT Ltr to Corps re DEIS "The selected route for SR 20 has not been determined yet."
6/1979 Several Public Comments on June 1979 Levee Improvements The issues presented in this document will be the same issues that have to be dealt with in 2013.  The comments from the Nookachamps Attorney and the BNRR are most interesting.
6/1979 Skagit River Levee Improvement Public Brochure 52 pages of critical historical documentation on the Skagit River Flood Risk dating to 1979.  Also includes multiple public comment letters.
6/3/1979 Corps MFR re mtg w/Skagit County BCC and residents of the Sterling and Samish River Areas “...erosion control sills were necessary to avoid a possible channel change from the Skagit Channel into the Samish Basin during a very large flood.”
6/11/1979 Corps Addendum to DEIS dated May 1979 Proving that the Corps can move with precision and speed the addendum to the DEIS was published within 30 days of the DEIS.  It will be very interesting to compare this document with what the Corps comes up with the current study because under today's regulations the project within this document would not be allowed.
6/15/1979 Ltr fm NW Regional Council to Corps Endorsed improved levees fm Sedro Woolley to mouth of Skagit.  50-yr rural  south of MV; 100 yr  for Urban areas.
6/18/1979 Ltr to Corps fm MV Chamber of Commerce. “...the majority wished for Board to go on record as being in support of the Skagit River Levee Project”
6/19/1979 Corps District Engineer Remarks and Project Study Manager description of measures evaluated and reasons for being dropped from consideration This is a wonderful document that shows us exactly what was considered in 1979.  See also Transcript of Public Hearing where these comments were made.  Most importantly compare what is currently being "studied" by the Corps (5/9/2012 Corps of Engineers GI Study Presentation) to what was "studied in 1979 and rejected.  If it was rejected in 1979 BY THE CORPS, why are we "studying" the same proposals again?
6/19/1979 County Commissioner Chairman Bud Norris speech to the Corps at public meeting "...there is no perfect solution..."
See Also: 6/19/1979 Transcript of Public Hearing
6/19/1979 Transcript of Public Hearing To me, to live in a flood plain and act shocked when the floods come is ridiculous. To live in the flood plain without raising the buildings is ridiculous and to expect taxpayers all over the country to pay the bills because some folks in Skagit Valley just didn't build their town right, is obsured [absurd].  If you are going to spend $55 million plus $88,000.00 a year on management costs we had better get a solution to the problem and the most recent June 1979 brochure which you got there is a list of alternatives, only four lines in this brochure are used to gloss over the only alternative that I feel that would bring a long-term solution to this flood damage problem. That would be rezoning, flood-proofing and raising the structures.”  [Source: Bruce Stroker, Big Lake Resident]
6/19/1979 Skagit Regional Planning Council testimony to Corps The Swinomish Tribal Community was a member of the SRPC.  "We strongly support this project for early construction as a minimum measure for providing flood protection for the lower valley and the urban areas up to the city of Sedro Woolley."  The chairman was the Mayor of Sedro Woolley.
6/20/1979 Skagit County Public Works ltr to Corps re proposed levee project County was concerned about "considerable numbers of property owners" who voiced concern over road construction.  No mention of "considerable numbers" who were impacted by higher water levels.
6/25/1979 Corps handwritten notes from mtg w/Samish farmers 43 people in attendance.  Favored doing nothing vs Corps project.  Question about how funds would be raised persisted back then as they do today in 2012.
6/27/1979 Skagit Soil Conservation District comment letter to Corps on DEIS Drainage of our agricultural land is very important in Skagit County.  . . .  Many of these systems were installed with Federal assistance, both financially and technically and represent a sizeable investment to the farmers.  . . .  We cannot afford to loose anymore farmland than is absolutely necessary.  . . .  We now feel we could support an alternative that will give Skagit County better flood protection but people and property must not be left with a worse flood situation than prior to the project.”
6/27/1979 Washington State Dept of Fisheries DEIS comment letter to Corps “The Skagit River is the single largest producer of salmon in the Puget Sound region and the Department is vitally interested in maintaining the present level of salmon production.  . . .  While sewage outfall, agricultural practices and siltation can affect fish production, they are not major factors within the project area.”
6/28/1979 Attorney letter to Corps re impacts to Nookachamps residents “ . . . the residents in the Nookachamps area now submit this letter in the hopes that the Corps will do everything in its power to prevent flood damage where at all possible and to fully compensate each and every landowner for the risks they will take to benefit all of the residents of Skagit County. ”
6/29/1979 BNRR letter to Corps re 1979 levee project At Gages Slough at about our MP 18 between Burlington and Sedro Woolley , your engineers state that the 100 Year Flood would inundate 4,000 feet of track if levees were constructed as proposed by Alternate 3E.  Inundation of track leaves the ballast full of silt and this is not satisfactory.  It appears that we should raise our track and provide a bridge for passage of flood waters."  . . . We find that local people raise the dikes when they are in danger of being overtopped (and the Army Engineers sometime help them in this) . When flood waters recede,  the material brought in to raise the dike is left on top of the dikes and thus , they are gradually raised.”
See also: 4/10/1978 Ltr to Corps fm BNRR re why they were opposed to flood project
7/1979 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for Corps 1979 Project This is the final Environmental Impact Statement for the Corps 1979 project.
7/6/1979 Department of Ecology DEIS letter to Corps “The Dept. of Transportation has expressed a desire to work with your office on the feasibility of incorporating SR 20 into the levee system.
7/9/1979 Corps letter to US Fish & Wildlife re changes to levee project “The intent of the proposed levee project is to protect existing development, not to promote the undesirable development of agricultural land, and no project benefits have been claimed for any higher or more intensive use of any of the protected areas.”
7/18/1979 Corps letter to Nookachamps attorney in response to meeting in Seattle Construction of a highway on continuous fill along the river between Burlington and Sedro Woolley could increase water surface levels in the Nookachamps area by 4 to 5 feet in a 100-year flood.
See also: 6/28/1979 Attorney letter to Corps re impacts to Nookachamps residents
7/24/1979 Corps ltr to DOE “...require the State of Washington to contribute an estimated $2,750,000 in cash toward project construction. ... The combined non-Federal share would be 25 percent of project first costs.
7/25/1979 Corps ltr to BNRR We plan to investigate the feasibility of opening the waterway under the north bridge approach to lower the water surface for large events under the bridge and in the area upstream of the bridge.
8/9/1979 Corps Statement of Findings re 1979 FEIS The remaining 9,500 acres is undeveloped land which will incidentally be provided highlevel protection as a result of measures taken to reduce existing flood damages in the urban areas of Mount Vernon, Burlington, and Clear lake. The provision of 100-year or more protection to undeveloped areas could result in significant secondary impacts from increased pressure to develop in the protected flood plain. The extent of impact will depend upon the degree that existing local land use regulations are enforced.
11/26/1979 Corps MFR re electon results Citizens of Skagit County, on 6 November 1979, voted 28.1 percent for and 71.9 percent against providing County Commissioners authority to obtain required local funding to construct the Skagit River, Washington, flood damage reduction project. District effort will be deferred on the project. Work in the various elements was examined to determine requirements for funds and time to complete activities. Funds requested by the various elements will be used to wind down the project and leave it in good condition to perhaps be continued sometime in the future.