The Army Corps of Engineers is moving forward with their plans to dredge the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers and Monday morning they got the support of the Asotin County Commissioners. Port manager Wanda Keefer explained to the commissioners the importance of the Programmatic Sediment Management Plan and why it's findings conclude that dredging is a necessary step.
"In times of fires, erosion is washing sediment down into the river system and that's what's being deposited at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers," said Keefer.
The four-year study found that it's public lands that are causing the sediment buildup issues in the river, not farmlands. Public Affairs Specialist Bruce Henrickson of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said while raising the levees is a possibility for the far off future, it's not something they're considering at this time.
"How sediment moves around in the water, that's called hydrolic modeling," said Henrickson. "It indicates there's no net increase in sediment at the confluence for the Snake and Clearwater Rivers so right now we do not have need to raise the Lewiston, Clarkston levees."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that legislation sets the water levels at 14-feet deep and 250-feet wide. The water level restrictions allow large barges to pass through the area with ease, so that goods and resources can be transported.
"We have a responsibility to keep that navigation channel open," said Henrickson.
Henrickson said there are three different portions of the programmatic sediment management plan that they're asking the public to comment on.
Some people, including environmental activists, disagree with dredging because they say it disturbs the marine life in the area.
If you'd like to voice your opinion on the matter please see below.
"A Corps Public Notice containing details of Clean Water Act requirements and how to submit public comments, plus a Notice of Application to the Washington Department of Ecology, are available on the Walla Walla District website at www.nww.usace.army.mil/Missions/Projects/ProgrammaticSedimentManagementPlan.aspx. Public comments to the Corps about Section 404 requirements regarding dredging and in-water disposal of dredged materials are due no later than April 11 2013. Comments may be emailed to email@example.com or sent via U.S. Mail to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, PSMP/EIS, ATTN: Sandy Shelin, CENWW-PM-PD-EC, 201 N. 3rd Avenue, Walla Walla, WA 99362-1876. U.S. Mail comments must be postmarked by April 11.
Any person who has an interest that may be affected by the disposal of this dredged material may also request the Corps of Engineers hold a public hearing. The request must be submitted in writing to the District Engineer at the same Corps address as above no later than April 11 and must clearly set forth the interest that may be affected and the manner in which the interest may be affected by this activity.
Public comments to the Washington Dept. of Ecology about Section 401 water quality certification are due no later than April 11 2013. Comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent via U.S. Mail to Washington Department of Ecology, ATTN: Federal Permit Coordinator - SEA Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600. U.S. Mail comments must be postmarked by April 11
For additional information, contact Ms. Sandy Shelin in Corps Environmental Compliance at 509-527-7265."