Motor, river issue revs up

Comment on Kenai hydrocarbons opens

Posted: Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The public will have another opportunity tonight to provide input on Kenai’s proposal to help clean hydrocarbon pollution from the Kenai River.

The Kenai City Council will again be considering an ordinance — actually a substitute ordinance — limiting the use of the city’s boat launch to vessels powered by four-cycle or direct-injection two-cycle engines.

The council heard public testimony on the original ordinance when it was introduced at the Dec. 6 meeting.

The proposed ordinance is similar to a state proposal banning all two-stroke engines, except those with direct fuel injection, from Kenai River waters within the Kenai River Special Management Area.

The Department of Natural Resources rule would go into effect Jan. 1, 2008. The city restriction would take effect May 1, 2007.

Both proposals are in response to a Department of Environmental Conservation report showing levels of hydrocarbons — emitted from motorboats — exceeded the 10 parts per billion limit a number of times during the month of July in nearly every year dating back to 1991.

Because the limits were exceeded repeatedly, DEC is considering listing the Kenai River as a Category 5 impaired body of water.

In its substitute form, Kenai’s ordinance exempts nonmotorized vessels and those powered by diesel engines and permits boats to be launched for direct access into Cook Inlet, according to City Manager Rick Koch.

“There would be no cost for the permits and they would be available right there (at the City Dock),” Koch said.

A public hearing also will be conducted on the McCollum-Aliak-Japonski street improvement project.

Work, which includes road and ditch reconstruction as needed and asphalt paving, is expected to cost $305,693.

The council also is slated to consider the city’s capital improvement priority list for the next fiscal year.

Topping the list is the Kenai River bluff erosion and stabilization plan. To complete the design phase of the plan, the city is requesting $2 million.

Koch said funding requests for projects on the priority list are being made to Alaska’s congressional delegation and to the state.

“The bluff stabilization plan is pretty much a Corps of Engineers’ project,” Koch said.

Other items on the city’s wish list include paving some of the 20 miles of gravel streets in the city, cleanup of contaminated ground at the city maintenance shop, reconstruction and paving of Wildwood Drive and installing street lights at some unlighted intersections and school bus stops around the city.

Koch said widening the Kenai Spur Highway to five lanes all the way from Kenai to Soldotna is also on the priority list.

The council meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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