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Soldotna joins in call for state action on river pollution

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2007

The city of Soldotna became the third of three local government bodies to sign off on a joint resolution asking the state to take action on removing hydrocarbon pollutants from the Kenai River.

Soldotna joins the city of Kenai and the Kenai Peninsula Borough in seeking leadership from Juneau.

On Wednesday, the Soldotna City Council appointed council members Ed Sleater and Shane Horan to a joint working group with Kenai and the borough. One week ago, the Kenai City Council appointed members Joe Moore and Rick Ross to the group.

The joint resolution calls for the local governments to work together to remove and keep the river from the federal impaired water body list. It asks state and federal agencies to take action; recommends the three local bodies work on regulatory actions within their own jurisdictions; and proposes developing a Board of Fisheries request to consider fishing rules designed to curtail pollution.

The resolution is in response to a Department of Environmental Conservation report showing hydrocarbons from gasoline-powered outboard engines exceeded state water quality standards in July often during the past 15 years.

DEC asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to list the Kenai River as Category 5 Impaired because of the pollution.

During public meetings about the water pollution, DEC, the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Natural Resources all reported an awareness of the issue, but none indicated having jurisdiction to take action.

The Soldotna council passed a resolution Wednesday night explicitly asking the governor to direct one of the involved state agencies to take the lead, adopting immediate measures to reduce hydrocarbon levels in the river.

In other business, the Soldotna council:

· introduced a temporary ordinance streamlining the conditional use permitting process for rebuilding property along the Kenai River destroyed by winter ice floes;

· introduced an ordinance appropriating an additional $223,000 for disaster response from floodwaters and ice damage. The council previously appropriated $100,000 for the disaster relief;

· approved a resolution authorizing a contract with Peninsula Construction for up to $162,800 to repair stairs and walkways at the Soldotna Creek Park riverfront; and

· approved a $300,000 appropriation to cover the cost of obtaining land and costs of planning and developing a city cemetery. A previous appropriation of $24,725 had already been approved. No site for the cemetery has yet been selected, but the city manager was asked to look into the availability of property next to the Catholic church on Fireweed Street.



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