Water woes trouble agencies across the county
January 27, 2022
By Rick Nelson
"Water, water, everywhere," says the old poem, and it could well have been describing Wahkiakum County's January.
December's snow and January's rain pushed streams out of the banks, flooded roads and properties, and sent local agencies looking for answers to the challenge of maintaining infrastructure.
Three local agencies shared their challenges at Tuesday's meeting of the board of county commissioners.
Poul Toftemark of the Grays River Habitat Enhancement District described a decade long challenge to attract members to that agency's board of commissioners.
Maurice Mooers of Diking District No. 4 described challenges to pay for maintenance of the small district's dikes along Brooks Slough.
County Public Works Director outlined the planned response to the rechanneling of a Wilson Creek tributary back into its original channel and end the erosion threat to a nearby residence.
Toftemark asked for guidance in filling vacancies on the enhancement district's board of commissioners.
Fifteen years ago, he said, he stepped in for what was supposted to be a temporary stint on the district board.
"I've been trying to get people to step up," he said. "I'm done."
He added that a Deep River resident has volunteered to join the board, and commissioners said Toftemark and fellow district commissioners simply need to supply a letter to the county commission recommending appointment of the candidate.
"The people who live in the district will have to step forward to take care of their property," commented Commissioner Dan Cothren. "Your's is not the only one."
Cothren was referring to Diking District No. 4, which according to Commissioner Maurice Mooers, has about only 300 acres of farm land to provide funding for its dike maintenance and drainage pumping costs.
The district had to fill a hole in a dike in 2021, and to do that, expensive trimming of blackberry vines along the length of the dike combined to severely drain the district's funds. Mooers said he personally will write a check to pay for the work.
What's more, they've found another hole in the dike that will have to be repaired in the dry season later this year. And another costly project will involve removing large logs blocking the pump station.
The district will need some assistance from the county, he said.
The district isn't rebuilding its funds, commented county Public Works Director Chuck Beyer.
"They aren't collecting enough taxes," he said.
"We will revisit this and look at what we need to do to see that things get done," said commission Chair Gene Strong.
Beyer reported that participants of a meeting last Friday to analyze the rechanneling of the Wilson Creek tributary agreed the best solution would be to return the tributary to its original channel.
A log jam diverted the tributary, which cut a new channel through east valley road and was eroding land close to the nearby Snow family residence.
Neighbor Marshall Snow thanked county officials for addressing the situation and getting action underway.
"What's the plan for the next time," he added.
"That was a perfect storm," Beyer said. He invited Snow to attend a meeting with a contractor to go over the planned project.