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

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Flood mitigation of Glacier Stream receives some federal funding

Council accepts emergency money from Watershed Protection Program


Tony Gorman photo

The KCHU radio tower located on city-owned land in Old Town was threatened by flood waters last year.

Funding to help offset the costs of dealing with flooding will soon fill the city's coffers.

The funding - is from the Watershed Protection Program, run by the Dept. of Agriculture - will add over $1.3 million to the efforts to stop the waters from threatening infrastructure.

The matter was postponed from the council's May 3 meeting because council hoped to compare the costs of mitigation versus relocating the tower.

For several years, the Glacier Stream has jumped its banks or changed its channels and threatened nearby infrastructure, including the city's landfill, the road to the dump, nearby homes and access to the public radio's tower in Old Town.

A report to council estimated the cost to relocate the tower was excessive.

"That's really what we were talking about," Mayor Ruth Knight said before council tabled the matter for later in the meeting.

The matter was postponed from council's regular May 3 meeting.

Prior to receiving the grant, the city had funded over $1 million to deal with the Glacier Stream flooding according to Dennis Ragsdale, the city's former manager.

The city must contribute - at minimum - 25 percent additional funds of the future mitigation costs of the project.

Council members Lon Needles and Darren Reese voted against funding the project.

Unlike commercial radio stations, such as the privately owned KVAK radio in Valdez, KCHU is a public radio station and is funded by government grants, program underwriting and by direct contributions from listeners.

"The transmitter in Old Town Valdez broadcasts 10,000 watts of digital AM," KCHU says on its website.

The station rebroadcasts on FM repeaters throughout Prince William Sound and the Copper Basin. The station's management has said that KCHU and its FM repeaters broadcast to an area larger than the state of Ohio.

KCHU says it began its partnership with the City of Valdez over 30 years ago.

"A construction permit, frequency allocation and a transmitter site lease with the City of Valdez were donated to TRI in 1984," says the KCHU website. "Work on the transmitter site began in September 1985. KCHU signed on August 2, 1986 at 1,000 watts as a repeater for KSKA in Anchorage."

The station is considered very important to mariners in Port Valdez and the Gulf of Alaska.

"Independent broadcast began in October 1986," the station continues. "KCHU upgraded to 10,000 watts in 1990 which allowed for a strong 770 AM signal. The station chose AM to better serve the maritime operations in the region as that frequency carries more effectively across the waters of Prince William Sound. The 10,000 Watts carries KCHU to the barrier islands and throughout the sound."


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