City Council OKs new Issaquah Creek flood gauge

November 23, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 23, 2009

City emergency planners will soon have a new tool to monitor rising flood waters: a new Issaquah Creek flood gauge.

Though workers will install the gauge early next year, the device will not be calibrated and ready until the next flood season. City Public Works Operations Director Bret Heath said the city would be able to collect data from the gauging station in the meantime.

Heath, who also serves as the city’s emergency management director, said the existing flood gauge arrangement has “a bit of a blind spot.” Heath said the new gauge should fill the gap.

City Council members approved $33,000 for the gauge Nov. 16, about a month before the expenditure was scheduled for a vote as part of the 2010 city budget. Heath had requested money for the new gauge in the proposed spending plan, but during a presentation last month about the January flood, council members urged Heath to present the proposal for a vote as soon as possible.

The full city budget is scheduled for a Dec. 21 vote.

When Issaquah Creek flooded in January, the flood warning system did not reflect the magnitude of flood waters flowing downstream toward Issaquah, because large amounts of runoff from the 15 Mile Creek drainage off Tiger Mountain entered Issaquah Creek downstream of the upstream flood gauge.

Planners said the new gauge will provide more accurate Issaquah Creek flood data, with about 45 to 60 minutes’ warning of impending flood waters, the City Council legislation states.

Readings from another flood gauge also did not correlate with the damage caused by flood waters, city Emergency Management Coordinator Steve Campbell told the City Council last month.

A U.S. Geological Survey gauge downstream on Issaquah Creek appeared inaccurate, because the device indicated about 2,500 cubic feet per second during the flood. But subsequent damage was similar to the 3,500 cubic feet per second estimate from the last major flood to hit Issaquah, in 1996.

Heath said city staffers would also work with the USGS team to recalibrate the gauge.

Floodwaters left behind about $1 million worth of damage when Issaquah and Tibbetts creeks overflowed in January.

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2 Responses to “City Council OKs new Issaquah Creek flood gauge”

  1. Connie Marsh on November 23rd, 2009 8:19 am

    Funny, I spoke to USGS last year just before the flooding, and they emphatically stated that the gages were calibrated and good to go. The City had taken the links to the gages off of the City website because they didn’t think one of the gages was functioning. Did this lack of communication actually leave the City unprotected or is it possible that the gages are correct, but there is just more stormwater because of so much more developed land in Issaquah? (Remember all of lower Reid was going to the N. Fork last year. etc)

  2. Lance K on November 23rd, 2009 10:41 pm

    Why are they wasting $33,000 on a guage? I own West Coast Armory on Gilman in Issaquah and all of Gilman Square was under water, we had over 18″ in the store. You could tell it was going to flood just by watching the guages. We drove out there at 9:30 and it flooded at 10:45. Why not fix the creek with the money? All they need to do is raise the Gilman bridge 2 feet. Oh well maybe after the next flood they will.

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