Commissioners respond to complaints about channel maintenance spoils site
September 19, 2019
An article in The Daily News of Longview this past week came home for the Wahkiakum County Board of Commissioners.
The article reported comments from Port of Kalama personnel saying they are preparing to begin depositing dredge spoil sand on Puget Island farmland owned by Philip and Ivy Lou Vik. The site was identified nearly 20 years ago as part of the project to deepen the Columbia River channel and is just now being developed.
According to land use permits, the dredge spoils will be pumped inland and over years piled to a level at the height of the dike road and sloping to a height of 35 feet at a distance of 600 feet from the road. During deposition, the sand will be watered, and a vegetative cover will be planted.
Puget Island residents objected last year when county officials approved the permits, and they expressed that displeasure again this week after seeing the Daily News article.
Commissioners said they had received phone calls about the issue, and they had more at their weekly meeting on Tuesday.
"This is the first I've seen about this," said Olaf Thomason, who lives near to the inland site.
Commission Chair Dan Cothren reminded Thomason that the commission held more than one meeting in 2017 about the proposal, which has been part of a 20-year process.
Another Island resident, Don Getchel, said he was unhappy with the permit approval process. The upriver ports, including the Port of Kalama, rammed the permits through the process, holding the county hostage, saying no sand for erosion outside the dike if no sand allowed on their inland site.
The overall process was flawed, he said.
"I totally disagree," responded Cothren. "For the upriver ports to ramrod this, no, I don't think so."
Toney Aegerter, another Island resident, pointed out that the channel deepening process started long ago, and local opposition to plans were unsuccessful.
"A lot of time, people think we have more power than we do," said Commissioner Mike Bckman. "They crossed their t's and dotted their i's.
"You have to follow the rules no matter who comes before you."
"Let's move on," Cothren said, and the board took up other business.