I’m trying to touch base with agencies who we think should be familiar with the Barnaby Reach project as it develops. This afternoon I spoke with Mark Eberlein of the Bothell office of FEMA, then followed up with this email message to him:
Dear Mark Eberlein,
Thank you for talking with me this afternoon. I want to connect with governmental agencies and leaders who may have some role in the future with respect to a troubling project here in the Rockport, WA, area. Rockport is in Skagit County near where the Skagit and Sauk rivers meet.
The Skagit River System Cooperative, along with Seattle City Light, The Nature Conservancy, and the state of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, as sponsoring partners, are developing a salmon habitat restoration project which has several features which concern us so much that we want to be proactive in understanding the roles various agencies might play in evaluating the project.
To be brief, the favored alternative under consideration in this big project would involve cutting a long, wide and deep channel to divert significant Skagit River flow into the Barnaby Slough, which is located just upriver from our residential community. We recognize the potential for such a channel to lead to a shift in the Skagit River from its current pattern in a way which could cause flood damage in an area which is partially outside the FEMA 100 year flood zone.
I understand from our conversation that FEMA’s role with respect to a project like this is limited, but I want your agency to know about it. It is a complex, multi-phase project which has moved from an initial alternative evaluation phase into a more detailed design and development phase. Potentially, the project sponsors could choose an approach which we are comfortable with, but we are assuming at this point that they will pursue the channel feature.
Our position is that the project must stand up to far more conservative evaluation criteria than the 100-year flood history, because the project is being developed adjacent to a residential community. A channel as envisioned would create the potential for harm in the event of catastrophic events or environmental circumstances beyond the one percent flood scenario.
We’ve created a website to convey our concerns. On it is a community letter expressing the points I’ve just made. FEMA is an addressee on the letter. Would you please pass my email along to the appropriate people and suggest to them that they review our community letter?
Dave Hallock2 comments