City maps storm flow

Posted: Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Kenai Watershed Forum hopes to chart the flow of Soldotna's storm water.

The $3,600 project will aid the city government in pin-pointing locations for stormwater retention projects. Forum computer specialist Stephanie Kobylarz said that water-catching basins can capture pollutants and sediment before it reaches the Kenai River. A stormwater map can also enable response teams to detect the origin of a chemical spill.

"Let's say a car drips oil on the road," said Cindy Gilder of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. "That ultimately makes its way into waterways."

Kobylarz said that she inputs the information into a mapmaking program called a Geographic Information System that organizes the data.

Soldotna's established infrastructure cut down on the legwork necessary to create the mapping program, funded by grants from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and DEC. Kobylarz said that much of the Soldotna project involves transferring data from city documents into the GIS.

Several years ago, the forum completed its stormwater map for the city of Kenai. The computer specialist said that she and interns monitored water flows during the post-winter break-up season intermittently for one and a half years. The forum marked inclines along with corresponding drains then used GPS units to estimate where the water flowed next.

Kenai Capital Projects Manager Kevin Lyon said that he has used the study for certain projects, but that the Watershed Forum's results occasionally relied on the assumption that water flowed in a straight line. Pipes the map infers exist don't always show up in as-built plans.

"That's not on uncommon on projects," Lyons said.

Kenai City Planner Marilyn Kebschull said that the watershed forum worked indepently of the city during the project. Her department hasn't had time to verify the results.

The Kenai stormwater mapping project received around $60,000 in grants from the Alaska Clean Water Action more than two years.

Tony Cella can be reached at

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