City, sewer district officials reach water agreement

June 23, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

City and Sammamish Plateau Water & Sewer District officials will consider building a storm water runoff treatment system. The agreement between city and district officials will end a dispute related to storm water entering the underground Lower Reid Infiltration Gallery, a system used to recharge the aquifer beneath Issaquah.

City and district officials signed a memorandum of understanding June 3. The document requires city and district officials to negotiate an interlocal agreement and then design, construct and test a new storm water runoff treatment system. The new system would treat runoff generated by a piece of the Issaquah Highlands.

The infiltration gallery is located at the eastern end of Northeast Juniper Street between First Avenue Northeast and the Cadman Inc. quarry site.

City Council members discussed the agreement in a closed-door executive session June 15. Following the session, officials agreed to spend up to $100,000 to implement the terms of the memorandum.

Council members sent the measure to the Council Utilities Committee for further discussion. The committee is scheduled to meet July 1.

Keith Niven, program manager for the city’s Major Development Review Team, said the dispute stemmed from district officials’ concerns about contaminants entering wells near the infiltration gallery.

Under terms of the memorandum, runoff must meet certain water quality standards before the storm water can enter the Lower Issaquah Valley Aquifer.

“We believe the city’s current storm water system provides a balanced solution for minimizing flooding impacts on the North Fork of Issaquah Creek while replenishing the city’s primary water source through infiltration,” Mayor Ava Frisinger said. “Although disagreeing on the influence of the infiltration on the aquifer, the city and district have agreed that it is better to focus our limited resources on enhancing that system instead of continuing further litigation and appeals.”

City and district officials will appear before the state Pollution Control Hearings Board in August to resolve how storm water should be managed. Representatives from both parties are working to complete the interlocal agreement before the Aug. 30 hearing.

City and district staffers are also working to locate a new monitoring well to provide water quality data required by the Department of Ecology in order to implement the joint agreement.

Mary Shustov, president of the district Board of Commissioners, praised Frisinger for the agreement.

“I thank the mayor for her hard work in helping to achieve this agreement. I am extremely pleased that we have been able to resolve our differences and move forward on a plan to protect our drinking water supply,” Shustov said. “Since our families will live with the results of our actions, I believe it is in the best interest of our community that we resolve this important issue together.”

Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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