>Culvert Dredging&Beach Nourishment Hearing – 9/17/09

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Hearing Held Today (9/17/09).   There was an informal hearing held today by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW or DFW) in Olympia regarding the approval of the “Illahee Beach Nourishment” project.  This project proposes to take the ~50 cubic yards of sediment dredged from the Illahee Creek culvert and place in on the Schutt’s point spit yearly for the next 5 years.
 
Two Groups Expressed Concern.  There were actually two Illahee groups that expressed concern for this “beach nourishment” project:  the Port of Illahee, and the Illahee Community Club.  Both groups requested an informal hearing with the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW), but only the Port of Illahee was allowed to present its case.
 
Illahee Community Club Appeal Request Rejected.  The Illahee Community Club’s appeal request was rejected because DFW said they didn’t receive the letter until September 10, 2009, which was 31 days after the project was announced, and one day past the 30 day requirement. 
 
USPS Investigation Initiated.  The ICC was concerned about the denial as they sent a certified letter to DFW on 1 September 2009 and for some reason it didn’t get to DFW until 10 days later.  ICC members contacted the US Postal Service who conducted an investigation since certified letters are tracked and not supposed to get lost.
 
WDF Investigation.  The WDF also conducted an investigation and the ICC was called on Tuesday and told by DFW that it wasn’t they who held up the letter, but rather the US Postal Service who messed up.
 
Port Informal Hearing Scheduled for Wednesday (9/17/09).  What is interesting is the Port of Illahee sent their letter out via regular mail probably a day after the ICC letter, and it was received by DFW and DFW set up the informal hearing for the Port for September 17, 2009. 
 
Hearing Was Held for the Port Concerns.  One Port Commissioner and three Port sanctioned residents were given an opportunity to provide oral and written information to the HPA Appeals Coordinator to explain why they believed WDFW was wrong in issuing the Illahee Beach Nourishment Hydraulic Project Approval (or HPA).  During the hearing the Coordinator kept reminding everyone that protection of fish life and habitat are the only issues that can be presented.
 
Two Hour Hearing.  The hearing lasted two hours.  We think the Port’s concerns were adequately presented.  Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, we think the beach nourishment concept is flawed for more reasons than we can present here. 
 
Brief Paper Attached.  We have attached the brief paper that was provided to DFW, though we need to state that the oral testimony from the brief was given at the end of the hearing and that some of the questions in the brief had been answered by that time.
 
US Post Office Call.  The ICC received a call from the Post Office in Olympia, after the hearing, that as we understand it, said the ICC letter had indeed been delivered to DFW before September 10.  We heard that the Olympia Postal Service Office was sending an email to the WDF supervisor and we are waiting to see if the ICC will get their hearing.
 
Will the ICC Get Their Hearing?  If the ICC letter was received by DFW before September 10, then the ICC should be able to also have an informal appeal hearing on their issues, prsuming they have something new to present.  
 
Questions? – See Attached Brief.  We hope this email makes sense.  We have attached below the breif that was given to WDF for those who may want to know some of the information that was presented.
 
Jim Aho
 
Informal Appeal of HPA by the Port of Illahee re Beach Nourishment Project
Understanding of the Project
Dredging
1.       Dredging is being proposed by KC Public Works Roads Division.
2.       Dredging is necessary because of the excessive sediment loading of Illahee Creek.
3.       The sediment has been filling the culvert beyond its design capacity since it was built in 1999.
4.       The culvert essentially failed during the Dec 3, 2007 storm and was first dredged in 2008.
5.       Subsequently the culvert filled up again with sediment, though not to the post-storm height, but is getting close to the pre-storm height, and dredging is again being proposed.
6.       Concern of KC Public Works is another major storm could result in the total failure of the culvert.
7.       Public Works Road Division is primarily concerned with removal of the dredged material rather than its placement, and has an approved gravel pit disposal site for the removed material.
Beach Nourishment
1.       Beach nourishment is being proposed by the DFW biologist as a better use of the culvert sediment?
2.       Sediment is to be placed on the inside (land side) of the spit at Schutt’s Point.
3.       The project proposal does not explain how the depositing the sediment from the culvert will nourish or benefit the beach, nor does it describe if it is correcting a beach problem, nor does it explain how it will benefit fish.
4.       The rationale for the beach nourishment phase of the project is not understood by the Port, or the community the Port serves.
Concerns with the Project
Sedimentation
1.       The reason for the dredging and the corresponding beach nourishment project is the excessive sediment loading in Illahee Creek.
2.       Excessive sediment loading is primarily the result of unconstrained storm surges within the watershed caused by the lack of stormwater control requirements for roadways and developments in the 60’s & 70’s.
3.       The sediment load has not only affected the fresh water fish and salmonids, but has also affected saltwater marine life.  The sediment loading has resulted in the silting of the nearshore beach areas well out into Port Orchard Bay, such that silting depth at the base of the Port of Illahee dock measured 32 inches in 2008.  This is a massive sedimentation problem and the reason for DOE Surface Water Management Grant being awarded to the Port of Illahee.
4.       Until the sedimentation problems within the Illahee Creek watershed are made part of an overall strategy plan to control the stormwater surges, there will be the continued degradation of freshwater fish and saltwater marine life.
Schutt’s Point
1.        Schutt’s Point is the location of the placement of the dredged material.
2.       Schutt’s Point has an interesting history both old and new that needs to be understood by those requesting change.
3.       The area of the placement is an estuary wetland that supports local and wintering waterfowl.
4.       During extreme high tides local residents have taken kayaks or shallow bottom boats through the area, however not in the recent past.
5.       The area has some restrictions placed on it because of its fragile nature, by a Hearing Examiner in 2004.
6.       Local residents are having a hard time understanding the rationale for either increasing the height of the spit or the filing in of an estuary wetland in the name of “beach nourishment.”  This point needs to be emphasized, and also reflects one of the Port’s concerns.
Flood Plain
1.       The estuary area is also in the flood plain of Illahee Creek.
2.       During the December 3, 2007 storm, Illahee Creek did as most creeks did, went over its banks and flooded.
3.       The effects of the storm were new stream channels that spread throughout the channel migration zone (CMZ) with one of the primary side streams running through the area designated for placement of the dredged material.
4.       Around the time of the first dredging the stream was redirected back to its main channel, both through the actions of the dredging and the placement of berms to restrict side stream flows.
5.       Again, many of the locals don’t understand the human intervention into an area that is supposed to be left in its natural state, including the placement of the dredged material in or near the channel migration zone.
Fish
1.       The Port has been advised by DFW that the HPA is ultimately about what is best for fish life or fish habitat, which we presume also includes shellfish.
2.       The Port has been involved with fish incubation projects both alongside the stream and at the Port of Illahee dock.
3.       The Port has also been supportive of fish habitat restoration projects within the watershed and particularly along the lower stream corridor.
4.       One of the key elements of the Illahee Watershed Surface Water Management Plan that was funded by DOE and the Port was a study of fish habitat and fish use of the Creek.
5.       The conclusion of the biologists was the excessive sedimentation was the major problem seriously affecting fish and fish habitat in the stream.
6.       As mentioned earlier, excessive sedimentation has also resulted in excessive silting out into Port Orchard Bay which is detrimental to shellfish.
7.       In other words, the same problem affecting the culvert is also the same problem affecting fish and fish habitat, excessive sedimentation.
Supporting Documentation
1.       Parametrix/Stillwater Sciences/Keta Waters “Illahee Creek Watershed Surface Water Management Plan” dated September 2008.  This report describes not only the watershed problems, but also recommended solutions to the sedimentation problem.
2.       HDR Report “Illahee Creek Stormwater Outfall:  Evaluation of Impacts in Response to Kitsap County Shoreline Questions,” dated May 2, 2008.  This report does an excellent job of documenting  the effects of the December 3, 2007 storm on the estuary area.
  
Conclusions.
1.       The concept of dredging year after year without an overall plan only perpetuates the sedimentation problems and is detrimental to the overall concept of supporting fish.
2.        The concept of beach nourishment has not been substantiated as for need and in fact appears to be using the dredged material to raise the height of the spit or fill in an estuary wetland.
3.       A Comprehensive Plan to control the sedimentation problems of Illahee Creek is needed to protect fish, the Illahee Creek culvert, and the estuary wetland.
4.       The HPA should be denied until it can be included as part of a comprehensive plan to resolve the excessive sedimentation loads in Illahee Creek.