Flood reduction is goal of Kenmore plan

Late last year, as what turned out to be a mild winter was just getting under way, Kenmore resident Jay Arroyo was worried about protecting his home from the small waterway that flows behind it.

Arroyo particularly was eager to show off a filmed scene from 2008 featuring water reaching roughly up to his knees flowing through his back yard.

At the time of the flood, the Northshore Fire Department put up sandbags along the creek in an effort to help alleviate the situation. But Arroyo and other homeowners in the Wild Cliff Shores subdivision ended up clashing with state wildlife officials.

According to the latter, the sandbags represented an alteration of a fish-bearing stream and simply had to go. Flash forward a few months and following the June 21 Kenmore City Council meeting, local officials seem hopeful they have found a more permanent solution to any alleged flooding problems in the area of Wild Cliff Shores.

“It would be a significant benefit for anyone who has been experiencing flooding in that area,” city engineer Ron Loewen said of the proposed project.

Known only by its number designation, Loewen said Tributary 0057 flows north when it reaches Northeast 170th Street. At that point, the waterway goes into a storm-water vault, then flows openly again in the area of Wild Cliff Shores.

Essentially, Loewen said the system gets clogged and water can reach the streets and has the potential for reaching nearby private property. Loewen added the city’s plan is to do away with the pipe at 170th Street.

The way Loewen explained it, water currently flows through the area in a sort of horseshoe pattern. Under the plan developed by consulting engineers, the water would flow simply across the top of the horseshoe, emptying into wetlands along the Sammamish River.

Loewen added the water reaches those wetlands now, but the city’s plan greatly would alter the route.

Hired by the city to study Tributary 0057, engineers Gray and Osborne, Inc., came up with 10 possible projects to ease sediment and related flooding problems along the waterway.

Their description of the recommended plan includes removal of a sediment trap on 170th Street and installation of an open channel with concrete block walls and an open sediment collection area at the point water is discharged from the channel.

“This alternative provides the greatest flood reduction, ecological benefit and least long-term maintenance effort,” the Gray and Osborne report reads in part.

Cost has been estimated at $558,000.

Loewen said Kenmore City Council did not give any direction as to when construction might begin, but he expects work would get under way next summer.

“The next step is the design phase,” said Councilwoman Laurie Sperry.

She said for her part, the aspect of the plan she likes most is the cooperation that will be needed between the city and Wild Cliff Shores.

Arroyo confirmed the Wild Cliff homeowners association was asked if they would grant access to their property and they quickly gave their OK.

Arroyo said he believes the plan to replace the culvert will ease any flooding problems in the long run, but did express some concerns the project may not happen quickly enough. He said hopefully no major rain events will strike between now and whenever the work gets under way.

“At least there is a solution in place,” Arroyo said.

He added state officials relented on their insistence sandbags on 0057 be removed. He said that since the city seemed to be taking some action, the state was willing to let the sandbags stay put as an interim step.

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