Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lake Boren Flood Report

Lake Boren is a nice little lake in glittering Newcastle, Washington. Over the years Glen, the Lake Boren carp, has worked hard to keep the lake level under control. Tirelessly, one might say. In 1996 Newcastle incorporated and as part of that they announced that the “city” was now responsible for control of the lake level.

That was easy to say since nobody at that time realized it might take a little effort. Water flows into the lake from the east and west. Water from the west is more of a trickle since storm drains take care of most of it. That’s because the contours of the land don’t result in a natural creek channel to the lake.

The east, however, has a natural contour that acts as a drain for a large portion of the hillside. It spills right into Lake Boren. That’s why Lake Boren Creek exits the south end of the lake and deposits the water into May Creek. Check Google Earth.

One of the benefits is Lake Boren is pretty clean most of the time. Until recently, that is. Now it turns brown and goopy during heavy winter rains. Apparently it also gets into yards where it never did before.

The problem is the hillside to the east has been extensively developed and more water finds its way into the drainage contour than before. The old forest used to soak up a lot of water. Now with houses, streets, and driveways more water runs down the hill. Add sprinkler systems and the occasional water balloon fight and it becomes a torrent. The golf course is also uphill from the lake and you know how much water that can produce.

Glen, the Lake Boren carp, has grown tired (remember tirelessly?) of doing work the city says it’s responsible for. He’s taken to traveling all over the world via the natural waterways to visit various pals, such as the Loch Ness Monster. This neglect has resulted in Lake Boren Creek becoming clogged with fallen trees and other stuff such as rocks and possibly silts. (Don’t ask me, Microsoft thinks silt should have an “s” on the end.)

Anyway, folks living on the shore have noticed that the water comes up more than it used to. Newcastle thinks King County used to dredge the creek to keep it open before it became the city’s problem. They didn’t see any reason to do that during all the Coal Creek Parkway construction. And now they’ve let the creek get clogged.

So far not too funny. Here’s where it gets fun. The city has hired an engineering consultant firm to tell them how to deal with the water. I didn’t know they were asking or I would have told them for nothing.

This high dollar consultant will do a topographic survey, hydraulic analysis, and wetlands delineation. Then prepare topographic, profile, and cross-section maps. It’ll cost about a year’s salary. That’s before any work gets done. We’ll see them hiking all over Newcastle with tons of high priced gadgets and tape measures. We’ll know who they are by the hip waders and water wings. It could take dozens of minutes or even an hour to figure out which way the water runs. Hint; it’s downhill.

The result will be a couple of big trees worth of paper. Everyone in Newcastle will get something in the mail, probably. The city council will get the final report and recommendation for extensive work. There will be culverts, retaining walls, weirs, wetlands mitigation, jailhouse windows, and plenty of truckloads of dirt going to and from Maple Valley.

Don’t ask me what some of those things are. Can you put a weir near a jailhouse window? These are technical questions we need the consultants to answer.

At strategic points along the process we’ll get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife all involved. Yeah, right, the Newcastle News says they might be able to finish the whole project by next summer. With the corps and the fish people are involved it’ll add a year each.

The eventual alleged work could cost well over $100,000. Newcastle doesn’t have that kind of money. Or they could apologize to Glen and he’ll clean out the creek for nothing. Well maybe a few hundred pounds of fresh oysters.

Meanwhile over in Bellevue (motto: we can’t possibly get any bigger, can we? YES!). They’re looking at building a basketball arena for an NBA team. The Seattle area still holds the rights to the “Sonics” name so all we need is an arena and a team. Bellevue has plenty of areas where that can happen.

Bellevue also has kind of a confluence of freeways, except we’re going to get tolls on them at some point. Anyway, fans can get to the new arena. We also have bus service, Rapid Ride, and someday maybe light rail. In fact this kind of facility fits right into the grand plan for development in the Overlake area.

A large basketball arena would be the focal point for eats and shops. If they do it right people going to and from games would spend lots of money nearby.

Another kind of sport that can share the same arena is hockey. All you need to do is put refrigeration coils under the basketball floor and then flood it and freeze it. I hear there’s plenty of water available in Lake Boren.

A confederation of sports fans is proposing that we get the legislature to look at some kind of public funding package for the arena. Maybe they could hire those water consultants to draft a hydraulic analysis that includes using Lake Boren water for the ice. They would get rich. None of us could afford a ticket to a basketball game but we’d sure be proud of our fancy new arena. “Bellevue Sonics” has no charm or romance. Can you think of a better name? Submit your suggestions and win a free dinner at Gold Creek.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think "Seattle Super Sonics" sounds just great!