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K-Beach floodwater begins to recede

Many homes face long-term problems of a newly high water table

Posted: October 24, 2013 - 8:48pm  |  Updated: October 25, 2013 - 8:32am
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Work to fend off flooding continues Thursday at Sherrie and Dan Dahlen's K-Beach home. The couple has spent $15,000 to battle encroaching water from a water table on the rise following three years of heavy snows, frosts and increased rains.  Greg Skinner
Greg Skinner
Work to fend off flooding continues Thursday at Sherrie and Dan Dahlen's K-Beach home. The couple has spent $15,000 to battle encroaching water from a water table on the rise following three years of heavy snows, frosts and increased rains.

Sherrie and Dan Dahlen had their home of 19 years paid off before the water table rose underneath Bore Tide Drive and created enough pressure to crack through their concrete basement.

“I had eight inches of water in my basement,” Sherrie Dahlen said. “It bubbled up through the floor.”

Their home is one of 30 known to be directly affected by the flooding in the Kalifornski Beach area, which began about two months ago. The groundwater flood is not a traditional one; the water has not overtopped the banks of a lake, river or creek. Instead the water comes up from the ground as the water table rises due to a series of weather events during the last three years and moves across the area to the northwest.

“My house is now worthless,” Dahlen said, of her home that needs new drywall, carpet and a septic system.

Flood insurance does not cover damage from groundwater.

Their own efforts to stem the flow into their house include digging out the complete perimeter of their foundation to seal the concrete and building a French drain that guides water into a stand pipe to be pumped out and into a roadside ditch.

The Dahlens have spent $15,000 so far and expect the bill to double after building a new above-ground septic system and fixing whatever damage has been done to their well.

The couple, along with many residents living in the K-Beach area, want the Kenai Peninsula Borough to do something to alleviate the flooding now. However, that help is not likely to come and, for the most part, residents and homeowners are on their own.

The Dahlens and others now face the issues of flooded septic tanks and possible contamination of their drinking water wells, along with repairs and continued flooding issues.

“I don’t know that there is anything that anyone can do at this point,” said borough Mayor Mike Navarre.

Navarre said that the borough has worked to move water through the subdivision with a series of culverts installed under driveways and roads to connect ditches and send the water on its way to Cook Inlet.

“We can try to help move water and we have,” Navarre said.

Among the issues known to be holding water back from its natural course to Cook Inlet are the roads in the neighborhood. Navarre pointed out that the developer built the roads, not the borough.

Navarre’s chief of staff, Paul Ostrander, said the water began to recede some on Monday, based on monitoring stakes placed throughout the flooded area.

“It’s a massive amount of water in that area,” said Pat Malone, Road Service Area director.

Malone said the roads effectively dam the water in place. As of Oct. 16 the borough has installed between 10 and 20 culverts in the area, at a cost of $9,800, to begin moving that water, Malone said.

Also under way is a surveyor study of the area’s topography to see if there is a natural route to move the water to Cook Inlet without causing more damage.

With some ditches, basements and crawlspaces still full of water and some people reportedly abandoning homes they deem totaled, Malone said the bulk of work that his road department can do to deal with the flooding is done for the year.

Navarre on Tuesday reported to the Borough Assembly that his response authority was limited to protecting borough infrastructure and monitoring the flood for health related issues. Thursday he reiterated that the borough has focused on road culverts because it’s within the scope of authority of a second-class borough.

There are maps going back 10 to 20 years and the changes in the area from development have a cumulative impact on water flow, Navarre said.

The original developer of the subdivision, Dave Yragui, has been dealing with a slow rising flood at his ranch. Tuesday, he asked the borough to put a canal in on 7th street to alleviate the problem.

Navarre said that the borough cannot dig a canal without permits from the state.

Navarre told the assembly that the flooding was the result of big snows last year and higher than average rainfall this year. Both follow a 10-year drought, he said. They are contributing factors that have resulted in a recharge of the groundwater in the area. This type of flooding is not unique to the area; it happens all over Southcentral Alaska. Groundwater is elevated everywhere, he said.

Monday, hydrologist from the U.S. Geological Survey, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the borough are expected to go out and look at source areas for the water. Navarre said the scientist will try to determine if the flooding is a short-term or long-term event. Whatever their determination, any solutions created to deal with the water problems will have to be designed, engineered and permitted.

“We can’t do it immediately,” Navarre said.

 

Reach Greg Skinner at greg.skinner@peninsulaclarion.com.

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gtri
25
Points
gtri 10/26/13 - 09:45 am
0
0

bore tide water problem

I live 51040 passage dr.just off bore tide,runs alone it,my place is has drain feild troublem,keeps filling up.been here for over 20yrs,never had this befor,there place here with basement fill up down the road on kalgin ,and sewer troublem,the borough,kpb,won't do again ditch cleaning let the water run down kalgin,for pass 20yr it run that way now they say dn't wont anyone down hill have any troublem .like the old grave pit where it run for years.it been year since they clean it the tree in the ditch are 3' high now.passage dr. above me has 2' plus of water,It all bec of the subdivdion up on buey st,where the water been mass with. and you cnt tell me any different..gt

akfamily24
16
Points
akfamily24 10/26/13 - 11:16 am
3
0

Something to think about.

DaveYragui's land is in the middle of a swamp. I look at a swamp as sort of a sponge, holding massive amounts of water. What happens to the water if you cover that sponge in gravel, lets say... for an airstrip. Where does all that water go? It spreads to all the surrounding land around it. Add to that record snow and rainfall. I think removing the gravel from the sponge would be a start.

Norseman
2495
Points
Norseman 10/26/13 - 05:16 pm
2
2

Everybody screams less

Everybody screams less government. Everybody screams curb government spending.
Let a developer build in a swamp and build their own roads and now the land owners demand the government spend money to help them.
The old adage, "Let the buyer beware" be your guide.

Sorry for the folks who bought land there but I as a taxpayer do not wish to subsidize your failure to properly vet your property.

Suss
2320
Points
Suss 10/26/13 - 08:31 pm
2
0

Older Subdivision

Some of these homes have been in that area since the 70's and had no water table issues utill now. There are no simple answers nor solutions, but I do feel for the homeowners that are struggling with the flood and the cost to them and yes our tax dollars are intended to assist our neighbors where they are needed. Improving the drainage by adding culverts is a proper function of government.

gtri
25
Points
gtri 10/28/13 - 09:44 am
2
0

flooding on bore tide

I' ve live here over 20yrs,no I didn't buy land on the swap.the subdive across from k-beach fire station, mile 12,out in the swap where dave yragui's build new subdivdition,block off water ,builded road,no calverts,no kpb didn't approve this,now the water going the wrong way,he block some of the water so it woodn't go on his land. It should go to sbs creek,beaver damn,that way but not..{my problem is my sewer} or drain feild; keep fill with water..most of the people with basement are having problems,and there sewer,and kpb won't pull the ditchs there full of water up to the road..{or clean them out} gt

gtri
25
Points
gtri 10/28/13 - 09:44 am
1
0

flooding on bore tide

I' ve live here over 20yrs,no I didn't buy land on the swap.the subdive across from k-beach fire station, mile 12,out in the swap where dave yragui's build new subdivdition,block off water ,builded road,no calverts,no kpb didn't approve this,now the water going the wrong way,he block some of the water so it woodn't go on his land. It should go to sbs creek,beaver damn,that way but not..{my problem is my sewer} or drain feild; keep fill with water..most of the people with basement are having problems,and there sewer,and kpb won't pull the ditchs there full of water up to the road..{or clean them out} gt

whenpigsfly
38
Points
whenpigsfly 10/28/13 - 04:35 pm
1
1

Not everyone is anti-goverment

I too have lived in the sub division across the street from the K-Beach fire station for about 25 years and I have never seen the water conditions this bad. I did not buy swamp land. Buoy Street was extended without borough oversight and it has created a dam that traps the water and prevents it from moving south to Mile 11. The ditches that have been dug in the swap have channeled the water into Eastway Road and Karluk Ave. flooding our subdivisions. Whether this is an Act of God or the arrogance and ignorance of a man with to big of a backhoe is yet to be seen, but this where government can do some good to help out the people that have paid taxes for years.

kingdog1
2
Points
kingdog1 10/30/13 - 09:02 pm
0
0

Flood Zone?

I bought my house on Bore Tide in 1994. I did 'vet' my property before buying. It is not rated as being in a flood zone. I take exception to Norseman placing blame on buyers that do not 'vet' their property prior to buying.
Look on the KPB map for wetlands. Bore Tide, Kalgin, Karluk, EbbTide, Corkline, Passageway are NOT in the wetlands. Norseman, I pray you never have a disaster in your neighborhood. This disaster is bigger than what the Borough can handle on its own. We all pay taxes and every once in a while, people need help. I hope you never have to experience this type of problem. With your attitude, how humbling will it be for you to receive assistance? Especially since flood insurance does not provide coverage for this type of damage. Nor does the additional insurance homeowners can buy for sewer backup and water. Flood insurance only covers if a river or the ocean floods your property. Flooding from rising water tables is not a covered item for insurance. If the State provides assistance to affected homeowners and you happen to be one of those homeowners, will you accept the assistance?

akfamily24
16
Points
akfamily24 10/30/13 - 09:18 pm
0
0

Also

The drainage for the swamp has been blocked and diverted north, east and west. It used to head south towards Marathon. The water, at this point, is still flowing from the south to all these subdivisions.
It is just flowing out of the woods like a geyser opened up back there.
The thing is many places naturally flood ever other year, every 5 years, some every 10. We have never had water flood into this area before. This is not normal. my subdivision was almost dry after the last rain until about an hour before it stopped raining, aside from a puddle here or there. Then the flood came from the south. Filling up ditches, and covering roads until it made it to the other side and started filling that side up. It has been filling up one ditch and moving to the next and the next for the last 48 hours after the rain had ceased. We can't sand bag our property, it is flowing through the ground into our septic systems and coming up through bathtubs. Everyone around here has a basement. Water tables were great when we moved here 9 years ago, yes we checked it out then. Right now I am one of the lucky ones, but I know it is just a matter of time.

akfamily24
16
Points
akfamily24 10/30/13 - 09:18 pm
0
0

Also

The drainage for the swamp has been blocked and diverted north, east and west. It used to head south towards Marathon. The water, at this point, is still flowing from the south to all these subdivisions.
It is just flowing out of the woods like a geyser opened up back there.
The thing is many places naturally flood ever other year, every 5 years, some every 10. We have never had water flood into this area before. This is not normal. my subdivision was almost dry after the last rain until about an hour before it stopped raining, aside from a puddle here or there. Then the flood came from the south. Filling up ditches, and covering roads until it made it to the other side and started filling that side up. It has been filling up one ditch and moving to the next and the next for the last 48 hours after the rain had ceased. We can't sand bag our property, it is flowing through the ground into our septic systems and coming up through bathtubs. Everyone around here has a basement. Water tables were great when we moved here 9 years ago, yes we checked it out then. Right now I am one of the lucky ones, but I know it is just a matter of time.

kksalm
212
Points
kksalm 11/06/13 - 03:30 pm
0
0

I'm wondering about the seismic testing being at fault

I live by a gravel pit that never had a water table elevation increase until Buccaneer went by with their "thumper" and setting off charges out back. Maybe there were established underground waterways that collapsed and here we are, flooding where we were never flooding before.

Have a nice day!

Norseman
2495
Points
Norseman 11/07/13 - 08:04 am
2
0

I didn't mean to sound

I didn't mean to sound insensitive to the unfortunate property owners who are affected. However, I still stand by my observation that the properties effected where in a historical wetland area.

quote..."Hill showed the borough aerial photos of K-Beach in 1951 and 1986. The former shows undeveloped wetlands..."

That is my point, the data has been there to show that the area was a huge wetland. 30 years ago I looked at some property in that area with an old timer. He said best forget the idea of buying there because of it being a huge sponge. It was cheap land and for a good reason.

It totally sucks to see neighbors driven out of their homes because of the rising water tables. Buying cheap land in a known wetland area has consequences. Developers putting in their own cheap sub-standard roads with inadequate drainage. All these add up.

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