Taking Action on Community Issues
Creek Issues Map (click here)
Waterway watchers in the community--YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!
ARRC-In early 2011, AWC filed comments with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) regarding the Alaska Railroad Corporation's new application to spray herbicides at its Anchorage Railyard, which is located adjacent to one of our best king salmon fisheries, Ship Creek. Other comments were filed, yet ADEC granted the permit. Three conservation groups: Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alaska Survival, and Cook Inletkeeper filed an appeal on May 25, 2011, regarding the permit issuance last year.
ARRC-Indian to Seward: The Alaska Railroad Corporation's proposal to spray the herbicide glyphosate Aquamaster and the surfactant Agri-Dex on 58 acres of land along the Alaska Railroad was finally approved after several court hearings. AWC believes that the potentially harmful effects of these chemicals on our fragile waterways have not been adequately researched. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation accepted additional Public Comment through June 24, 2010, and AWC provided comments, which you can download and read here.
AKDOT, under a new supervisor, has made great progress this year especially in the area of getting the streets swept up from winter gravel and sand. They have had several road projects that were done with care to protect storm drains and runoff. It's too bad that near the end of the construction season, a small job of ditch clearing ended up in a dramatic flow of muddy water directly into Little Campbell Creek at 70th and Homer. One of AWC's business partners, Jess Hansen of Brown Bear Auto & Body, reported the muddy flow on Aug. 4, and he has continued to monitor it daily. All agencies were notified, and finally an AKDOT crew placed some BMPs into the cleared ditch. Obviously these should have been in place BEFORE the ditch cleaning. Hopefully several lessons were learned from this incident.
We also want to acknowledge the many citizens who have reported these problems. Our map of issues is updated periodically (see top of page) to show different issues around Anchorage that are reported.
AKDOT-maintained roads: 2009 proved to be even worse than last year for the DOT's attempts to sweep up the winter aggregate. The Municipality began sweeping streets in mid-April, and by early June had made the initial cleaning on all of its 1200 lane miles. In the meantime, the DOT had awarded its contract for sweeping to a company that was clearly unable to handle the job. By the end of June approximately 20% of the DOT-maintained 600 lane miles had been cleaned. Complaints have been abundant about the impacts of slipping on the gravel-covered sidewalks and streets (pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, and motorcyclists) as well as the problem of the aggregate washing down into the stormdrains and into our creeks. No solution seems to be forthcoming, and by early July there are still over half the streets left to be cleaned, while the Municipality is on its second round. We have not been given much hope that next year will be any better as the DOT claims that its funding for cleaning will not increase. Let's hope the State government sees this differently.
Anchorage Daily News, June 28, 2009, article on sweeping
DOT is feverishly working to complete several projects around the Municipality this summer, and AWC and others have found that compliance with BMPs (Best Management Practices) is very lax. To complicate matters, there are different divisions of the DOT, so if you contact their environmental compliance officer on a project it's possible that he/she does not have jurisdiction over the project that you're addressing. Tenacity is the only solution.
66th and Old Seward: In June, a large lot was cleared for building, and no BMPs (Best Management Practices) were put in place to keep the dirt on the lot in case of rain. A call to the Municipality resulted in placement of silt fencing along the perimeter and filter cloth over a storm drain. Unfortunately the developer has done a very poor and improper job, and the AWC is working with the stormwater compliance officers to have this fixed. The silt fence is sagging and is not secured properly at the bottom to prevent runoff.
66th and Old Seward (left is before fencing, right is after fencing)
84th and Dimond Hook redux: This property continues to be a problem. In early spring AWC noticed that the developer had placed fence stakes along Little Campbell Creek within the 25' riparian buffer (see story below). The fence has not been finished, because the Municipality responded to our complaints. In the meantime, the owner parks large pieces of equipment on the property and as close to the creek as possible.
Lake Otis and Tudor: The SE corner of this busy intersection had a hotel demolished in spring and it is expected to result in some traffic engineering to ease congestion. The Municipality is in charge of the property, but has not taken steps to protect the loose dirt from running down into storm drains in the event of rain. The AWC is working to get the Municipality to respond since this is their project.
Looking toward Tudor from Lake Otis
84th and Dimond Hook: On July 29, 2008, a business owner in the Dimond Hook area reported vegetation removal along Little Campbell Creek along 84th. AWC investigation revealed that the property developer was operating without proper excavation and fill permits, had grubbed the vegetation within the 25' creek setback, denuded the area adjacent to the creek, and left loose soil pushed along the creek banks. We worked with the Municipality Watershed Management Services to document several violations and get a Stop Work order until proper plans are submitted, permits obtained, and BMPs put into place. The developer will also have to revegetate the riparian zone.
Denuded riparian zone, loose dirt perched on creek bank of Little Campbell Creek at 84th
AKDOT-maintained roads: Citizen complaints and observations by AWC staff in late June 2008 revealed that parts of the Old Seward Highway, Dimond, and other roads under the maintenance jurisdiction of the Alaska DOT still had not had winter sand and gravel cleaned up. Heavy rains were washing the sand and gravel into storm drains and then into our creeks.
A letter was sent from the AWC to the Alaska DOT Maintenance on Monday, June 23. The Old Seward was cleaned up by Wednesday, June 25. A second letter pointed out the uncleaned portion of Dimond (under the New Seward), and within a day this was taken care of. We can take action and make things happen. Please let us know what is going on in the City. Use our Citizen Reporting form at the top of this page.
Old Seward Highway, June 2008, before winter sand was removed
52nd and Laurel: In 2007 continual dewatering of a subdivision site by the developer resulted in horrendous loads of silt pouring into Campbell Creek just downstream of Lake Otis. It took several months of action on this problem, but the dewatering has stopped and the EPA is now involved. The situation is in litigation, and a very hefty fine was levied against the developer by the EPA.
Dewatering plume in Campbell Creek
Elmore Road over North Fork of Campbell Creek: In February 2008 a Waterways Watcher notified AWC that large ice chunks had been broadcast over an extensive area on both sides of Elmore Road as it crossed the North Fork of Campbell Creek. Besides dumping ice chunks filled with sand and gravel on the creek, it posed a safety problem for users of the Campbell Creek trail immediately adjacent to the creek.
Area along Elmore Road at Campbell Creek showing pock-marked snow
Investigation by AWC staff revealed that the AKDOT road maintenance plows were hitting the ice on the Elmore Road bridge so fast and hard that it broadcast gravel and sand filled ice lumps, many the size of baseballs , onto the area below. The extent of the ice chunks was over 100 feet from both sides of the road and much of it fell onto Campbell Creek and the pedestrian/bike/ski trail adjacent to the creek.
Ice recovered from the area
AWC staff contacted the AKDOT road maintenance to inform them of this potentially dangerous practice--not only were people and animals at risk, but the ice chunks would add a considerable amount of silt and gravel to Campbell Creek during break-up. AKDOT agreed to have its plows go slower so that the ice and snow would be pushed further across the bridge rather than broadcast off its sides. AWC will be monitoring the situation closely this winter.
68th and Brayton: In September 2007 Alcan Electric, a contractor for Chugach Electric Association, was excavating areas adjacent to the North Fork of Little Campbell Creek in order to bury power lines. The contractor undertook the excavation without putting any BMPs into place. A high water table in the trench resulted in Alcan Electric personnel dewatering their trench directly onto 68th Ave. where the silty water ran into a storm drain that emptied directly into Little Campbell Creek.
Alcan Electric dewatering hose and stream on 68th Ave. near Brayton enter Little Campbell Creek
Additionally Alcan Electric used a small backhoe within a few feet of Little Campbell Creek with no silt fence or protective barriers in place, dirt was exposed, and subsequent rain caused the loose dirt to run into the creek.
Alcan Electric operating backhoe within a few feet of Little Campbell Creek (left of bucket)
Once AWC staff reported this to the Chugach Electric project manager, a slap-dab effort of putting up silt fence was done. The silt fence was not properly installed and when the creek level rose the water flooded past the silt fence.
Heavy rains in creek overpower silt fence
AWC worked with Municipality stormwater enforcement personnel to finally get satisfactory BMPs in place as well as revegetation of the site.
Proper bank protection, silt fence, and sprayed seeding
Today, one year later, the embankments are covered with grasses, and recently the erosion matting, silt fence, and coir logs were removed.