The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Robert Reisner
For The Seward Phoenix LOG 

More twists and turns in flood mitigation



Greetings my fellow citizens, summer is here so let’s get out there and enjoy it! In my previous article I failed to mention the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Flood Risk Management for the Seward area. I will cover this here and to show you how it’s connected to House Bill 89, Seward Summit and our Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area (SBCFSA) Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan (FHMP).

According to state and federal requirements, in order for our SBCFSA to provide flood planning, protection and mitigation services in coordination with the appropriate agencies, to reduce the risk of flood damage to private and public property, to throughly address issues that best reflect a fair use of tax-levy for watershed wide benefit; and many studies, projects and the like. Thus became our Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan, most saw it at the 2010 Seward Summit. The talks at the 2010 Seward Summit produced preliminary language for a bill to go forward that would represent our local needs. Also the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) would need to produce the Seward, Alaska Planning Assistance to States (PAS) Flood Risk Management report.

The legislation moved from the local level to the borough where it was rewritten to conform with later requirements at the state level. This bill was received by Representative Paul Seaton’s staff and drafted into House Bill 89, “An Act authorizing the commissioner of natural resources to offer bedlam material for disposal for flood control purposes in exchange for a percentage of the profit from the sale of material.

On the second page of HB 89 the state of Alaska purchasing department discovered that Seaton’s staff drafted it in unworkable language. The SBCFSA were also upset with it as well, due to the change that the borough and Seaton’s staff changed our 2010 Seward Summit language into a Department of Natural Resources bill. It is 100 percent incorrect with the Seward citizens and our SBCFSA.

In HB 89 is requesting a 12.5 percent profit on the sale of streamed gravel. This is unworkable due to several reasons. We have no customers for this gravel (although they’re out there), we have no set plan yet for the main mitigation area (Alaska Railroad is not working with us yet), we also have no fixed rate for operation and transportation. Not to mention it had nothing in common with the citizens and the SBSFSA brought forth in our 2010 Seward Summit.

I believe that this bill is a perfect example of the disconnect between the Alaska citizens and our Alaska legislature, and displays the greed at the state level. The upshot of this is that HB 89 will be withdrawn for consideration.

The ACE PAS report is the second piece of the fallout of the 2010 Seward Summit, released last November at our SVFD building. Attending the meeting was ACE, SBCFSA, Gilman River Center, City of Seward and several private citizens. During the meeting it was noticed by several SBCFSA members that Sawmill Creek was not in the ACE PAS report. Overall the SBCFSA did an excellent job representing our community and our needs to lower flood risks.

The real discussion took place days later at the Nov. 21, 2011 SBCFSA public meeting. Not only was Sawmill Creek discussed again, it was discovered that other than several names and addresses and a few colored maps. Page 4 through 27 read a lot like the 2010 SBCFSA FHMP. While it is not plagiarism it qualifies as a copyright. The ACE PAS report offered no answers, no guidance, and no solutions, but it did cost our SBCFSA $40,000. To say, “it hit the fan,” would be a feeble understatement. There was enough fodder in this one report to reverberarte over to the Dec. 5 meeting.

If a sportscaster was ring-side broadcasting this issue, it might sound like…”and another right, such beatings and thrashings have rarely bend recorded in the annals of the history of man. A few slaps in the mug. Oh! The humanity. But look, The 98-pound whelp is still on his feet.”

Our SBCFSA is up to their hips in the details on this mitigation effort. From Spruce Creek to Fourth of July Creek, out to Lost Creek and up the Resurrection River a small number of civic minded, fair and balanced citizens are looking out for you — our Seward Bear Creek Flood Service Area Board Members and Staff.


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