Along with hydrocarbon pollution of the Kenai River, fecal coliform pollution is also a threat. See the letter below, sent by the Kenai River Special Management Area's board to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
November 20, 2006
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
610 University Ave.
Fairbanks, AK 99709
Re: Development in the Kenai River Corridor
Dear Mr. Smyth:
The Kenai River Special Management Area (KRSMA) Advisory Board has supported water quality monitoring studies on the Kenai River for many years by the Kenai Watershed Forum and the Department of Environmental Conservation. Those studies have resulted in the recent proposal for listing a portion of the Kenai River as impaired for hydrocarbons according to Section 303(b) 5 of the Federal Clean Water Act. The KRSMA Board has responded to that proposal under a separate letter. However, those water quality studies also revealed a serious issue of fecal coliform pollution in portions of the river which is not adequately addressed. This letter requests the DEC take immediate and appropriate action to investigate sources of fecal coliform and potential sources of such contamination in order to protect the Kenai River.
The KRSMA Board believes that continued unchecked development in the floodplain poses equal or potentially greater risks than seasonal hydrocarbon issues. In addition to evidence of fecal coliform in the water quality studies, the KRSMA Board has viewed with alarm the seemingly unfettered developments adjacent to the Kenai River which, in the board’s view, have or may have inadequate sewage systems or systems that are vulnerable to flooding since they are located within the floodplain. In particular, the Board is concerned over the continuing development of a recent subdivision which has a sewage lagoon contained with an earthen dike within the floodplain. We understand that the DEC no longer inspects residential sewage systems, whether they are single lots or major subdivisions, and therefore did not review and approve plans or inspect the construction of the open sewage lagoon for this subdivision. We learned that there are several planned developments which we expect will have similar, and in our view, inadequate and dangerous sewage systems. All of these subdivisions are in the floodplain and our collective experience is that sewage lagoons are going to be flooded thereby flushing the sewage directly into the river. The great risk to the health of the river and its inhabitants is not being addressed.
For these reasons, the KRSMA Board specifically requests the DEC immediately review plans and inspect all current and planned major sewage systems near or adjacent to the river. We appreciate that budgetary problems may impact DEC’s ability to perform such inspections; however, we strongly encourage DEC to do whatever is necessary to do such vitally important work. In the board’s view, this problem could easily dwarf other potential sources of contamination and must be addressed.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Board.
President, KRSMA Advisory Board
CC: Kenai Peninsula Borough
City of Kenai
City of Soldotna
AK Dept. of Natural Resources
AK Dept. of Fish and Game
Kenai Watershed Forum