The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

 
 

By LEE REVIS
Editor, Valdez Star 

Glacier Stream emergency declaration frees up funds

Council met in special meeting after yet another high water incident

 

Valdez Star file photo

The Valdez Glacier Stream overrunning the bike path along the Richardson Highway in 2015.

An emergency was declared in Valdez last week after the Valdez City Council met in a special meeting to address ongoing threats from the Glacier Stream.

"Warm weather at higher elevations is causing increased run-off into the Valdez area river system," the declaration says. "Increased run-off is raising the level of both the low River and the Valdez Glacier Stream. Increased flow it is causing the river to shift closer to the Glacier Haul Road resulting in imminent threat to the Valdez municipal landfill."

The move by counsel frees up $2.5 million in funding to address the issues, and will expedite permits and response times.

The Glacier Stream, which is fed my runoff from the Valdez Glacier, has jumped its banks numerous times in the past several years when excess runoff or plugs holding back lakes high up on the ice either melt or break. The municipal landfill is located along the road that is often threatened by the torrential waters that flow during high water events, as is the home and property of James "Hotai" Williams. The Richardson Highway and the bridge that spans the stream across the highwat are not the only areas under threat. Residences near Old Town have often contended with excess water, as well as areas near the historical grave yard, a gold rush era cemetery.

The bike path along the threatened area has also flooded out on several occasions the past year.

The dike that was built last year to circumvent high water has held up and city officials are hoping to use it as a mitigation model for future efforts to control the waters.

The city hopes to begin "armoring" portions of the Dump Road that is continually under threat from the stream's waters, which have pulled out large number of trees from its former banks in recent days.

The city funds allocated for the emergency mitigation efforts were re-allocated from the reserve and capital improvement funds.

"I want to know where the money is coming from," Mayor Ruth Knight said before council cast its vote.

Finance Director Brian Carlson said funding the new resolution will leave some funds "skinny" but it was needed under the current circumstances.

"This is an emergency situation," Carlson said, and explained the complex budget and its rules.

He said "incident driven funding" will be closely tracked.

"We're surely going to have to allocate funds back to it in the future," Carlson said after giving details on the various funds where the funding is coming from.

The emergency declaration and resolution funding the mitigation passed unanimously.

Council members Lon Needles and Ryan McCune were not present.

 

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