Letter to Devin Smith, Project Manager

Letter to Devin Smith, Project Manager

Here is an email letter I sent to Devin Smith of the Skagit River System Cooperative this morning (December 13, 2015), commenting on the public meeting last week and discussing certain issues. Christie Fairchild, Howard Stafford and Russ Dalton, our neighborhood stakeholder representatives, were copied on the letter.

We encourage neighbors who attended the meeting to send their own letters to Devin Smith expressing views about the Barnaby Project. If you share your letters with us, we will publish them here on our Skagit Upriver Neighbors website.

Dear Devin Smith,

I thought the meeting on December 10th at Howard Miller Steelhead Park went well, certainly much better than prior public meetings we’ve attended. The turnout was good and you and Cynthia did a good job of presenting your information and engaging the audience around their questions and concerns.

Some of our neighbors continue to be concerned that their questions and issues be fully addressed, and many feel intent on keeping the pressure on relative to their serious reservations about the project. I appreciated the fact that a number of significant new questions and concerns were brought up and listed.

May I ask: you alluded to a study or modeling information relating to analysis of the consequences of all of the Skagit River being diverted into the channel proposed in alternative #4. As I recall, we were discussing catastrophic scenarios which could result in harm to our community. Would you please point me to the specific documents and pages you were referring to so we can review that information?

I’d encourage you to seek community input to identify the various catastrophic events and circumstances which could result in harm to our community. Our view, supported by many, many area residents, is that the project must stand the test of hyper-conservative evaluation criteria because it is intended for an area upstream of a residential community. Any catastrophic event no matter how improbable needs to be considered. And, this certainly includes river flow levels far exceeding the 100-year flood levels of the past. We need to assure ourselves that anything you plan to do cannot jeopardize our community, period, even under extraordinarily catastrophic circumstances.

You also stated that you’d like to provide the community with animated visual information of what would occur given certain conditions. You may recall an early conversation you and I had in which I inquired about the possibility of doing computer aided modeling in which we could stipulate various conditions and then observe in real time what transpires in the model. It seems to us that that sort of modeling should be state of the art in hydraulic analysis nowadays and easily accomplished given contemporary calculating capability. We should be able to sit around a terminal and enter various scenario conditions and observe the consequences. This is common in highly sophisticated economic modeling and should be easy to do for this project. We want to see what it would take, given all possible abnormal and catastrophic events and circumstances, for flooding to occur. Community support for whatever project you would like to develop needs to stand up to well-informed community perspectives.

Many of us have felt critical of the executive leadership of Seattle City Light, The Nature Conservancy and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for their unstudied endorsement of your first phase project study and analysis given the potentially catastrophic consequences for our neighbors here in the project area. They now appear to be more aware of the fact that they share full accountability for the integrity of your project and any harmful consequences that may ensue. We were pleased to hear the clear commitment you expressed on their behalf that nothing will be done that can jeopardize the well-being of our community.


Dave Hallock

Copy to: Skagit Upriver Neighbors

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