Council approves easement for dam renovation project
April 2, 2013
By Peter Clark
Overhaul on a 60-year-old dam in Issaquah Creek required an easement of land ownership from the City Council at its March 18 meeting.
Working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife since 2007, the city has mapped out most of the logistics in turning an aging, uninviting water maintenance tool into an accessible fish ladder that still diverts the water needed for the nearby stated-owned hatchery. Through past natural damage and structural weakness, the dam is in critical need of attention.
“There are two objectives,” said Kerry Ritland, surface water manager with the city’s public works engineering department. “Ensure a long-term water supply for the hatchery and create a fish passage.”
After years of securing grant funding and planning the design of the project, construction will soon begin. However, before ground can be broken, the council had to manage one important lingering aspect: property rights.
The land on which the new escalating weirs are hoped to be constructed is on five different properties, Ritland said. Through uncomplicated negotiations, the state, which forwarded this part of the process, was able to obtain easements on four of the properties while the last landowner wanted to sell. Due to a governmental mandate to stay out of landownership, the department bought the land and then deeded it to the city, asking Issaquah to pass an easement for the state’s use.
“WDFW’s policy is to locate their hatchery facilities on easements rather than on property they own,” according to the agenda bill, which the council voted to accept. “The city previously indicated to WDFW that we would accept ownership of the … property, with an overlying easement to WDFW to allow for the hatchery water supply intake and pipeline, because the city had previously considered purchasing this property from a prior owner for open space purposes.”
The project is garnering growing attention as it nears commencement.
“This is the highest-rated project in the whole watershed,” Ritland said. “In the end, it will be less of an eyesore but a better functioning intake for the hatchery.”
He made sure to mention that while the construction will continue through this summer, it will not change the surrounding landscape in any large way.
“Up to 10,000 tons of rock will be brought in to build these weirs,” he said. “They will also put in a gravel road, but it will all be pretty low impact.”
On March 27, the city will open the project to construction bids, hoping to begin operations in May. Ritland spoke highly of the owners who worked with the city and state to see the dam renovation move forward.
“I want to give credit to the property owners,” he said. “They have been very supportive.”