Sunday, October 23, 2011

Upstream Development

One of the most disappointing sounds to hear as a person who cares about the well being of a stream is the sound of earth-moving equipment working in the vicinity of the stream.  Unfortunately for Little Swamp Creek and for the peace and quiet of our neighborhood, a long-dormant proposed development named West Creek Village on 80th north of 192nd evidently was picked up by someone new and is moving full speed ahead.

At first there wasn't even a Notice of Construction Activity sign on the property.  It's disconcerting what requirements just might not happen until someone points out that they are missing.  THAT is as good a reason as any why people need to speak up.  About anything.  After it was pointed out to the city, the sign showed up right away...

First clue that something was up?  Hundreds of these dump trucks with trailers dumping loads of dirt on the site all day long for days.   By the way, the large trees on either side of this driveway are now gone...

I call the mound of dirt that they brought in "The Kenmore Matterhorn".   I was pretty excited to see a chance for a photo with a person on the pile for scale.  See him?  It's unbelievable that all of that dirt is really going to be used here.

When I went down to the city to see what was going on and point out the lack of an information sign, they were kind enough to give me a map of the project and mark on it where silt fencing should be.  The silt fencing is supposed to keep muddy runoff from flowing right into the stream.  I have to say that so far it seems to be doing an excellent job.

But on October 3rd we just happened to notice that the stream looked like this in our yard -

There was an excavator and other equipment working where the stream flows through the project property (see them behind the trucks on the right) -

and the stream immediately upstream from this project was sparkly clean -

Luckily the city contact person has been excellent in getting right back to us when we have had concerns, and that day he whipped right out to the site to check it out.  Evidently the project required a temporary diversion of the stream to build a new stream-crossing, and it was all done with the proper permits.  I'm not sure why this is OK at the time of year when salmon are returning....seems like it should have been done in the summer.  A few days later the city contacted us to warn us that the project was going to take the stream out of the diversion and that there might be silt in the water again.  We appreciated the warning.  

This is a picture taken today.  You'll notice that the massive dirt pile has shrunk.  Some of it must have been used to raise up the grade of the entry road, since that has now less of a dip. The cement walls are evidently where the stream runs under the access road.  Someday I'll walk down there to take pictures of the stream, but surprisingly enough there was someone riding around the property on a golf cart today, so I stuck to the street....

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  1. Be careful, Staci. I was questioned and felt threatened by a construction worker while I took pictures of silt in the stream over on 55th in LFP. Eventually they were fined, but it took a while. You might want to call Ecology. Elizabeth knows who to contact, I think. It's so sad. Hate to see this. W.

  2. Thank you, and I hear you for sure. I recently looked into "The Photographer's Right" and printed out a copy to refer to ( Yes, we almost did call the DOE, but then dropped the ball. Seems like all the stalled out projects to the north of us suddenly started moving forward. I wonder what will happen when the rain really starts falling.

  3. That is a bummer, especially considering that it went through the proper permit channels and was still allowed to happen at this time of year. Even when a diversion is in place water quality must meet Dept. of Ecology standards for turbidity, which it looks like it didn't. I bet the HPA permit requires a biologist onsite to measure turbidity while they are working in the would be interesting to see whether or not that was required. If it was, they should have turbidity data and the biologist they hired should have stopped work when the stream got too silty.

    --Sammy the Salmon

  4. Oh man, that is good to know going forward, S.S. Eric is going to look into that with the city. With all of the work they are doing in the buffer I am amazed we haven't seen more turbidity when it rains. Speaking of which, I'm going to be curious to see how they replant this one, now that I'm all educated about replanting stream buffers! - S