The Issaquah City Council December 17 approved a Developer’s Agreement with Lakeside Development, the owners of the huge gravel pit by I-90 and East Lake Sammamish Parkway, to redevelop the property over 30 years into a series residential complexes that could hold up to 1,200 homes.
Part of the agreement allows for the possibility of substantial infiltration that, if it goes wrong, could contaminate an aquifer that supplies some of the drinking water to Sammamish, Issaquah and some neighboring unincorporated King County.
Even if required studies pre-dating permits for storm water management determine that infiltration is not going to work, using conventional storm water management control (i.e., a retention pond) might not be the best solution for the aquifer, either. According to Issaquah staff presentations at the meeting, the water from a retention pond would eventually be released into the North Fork of the Issaquah Creek, which also finds its way into the aquifer and Lake Sammamish.
A standing room only crowd testified at the public hearing that they were concerned over what they termed inadequate studies in the Agreement about the aquifer. Ilene Stahl of Sammamish, past president of Friends of Pine Line, and others asked the Council to defer approval of this portion of the Agreement for more study. Stahl, a well-known environmentalist and protector of Lake Sammamish and the kokanee salmon that inhabit the lake, said she trusts the Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District (SPWSD) to protect the aquifer; drinking water and had concerns about the storm water drainage plan in the Agreement.
Several residents from Overdale, which is nearby the development and which also gets its drinking water from the aquifer, were similarly concerned. One, Dale Timmons, a hydrogeologist, cited the variety of pollutants that come from a major development and criticized the storm water plan as aggressive in its assumptions.
Lloyd Warren, a commissioner for the SPWSD, said the Commission was concerned about the plan, noting the aquifer serves 18,000 people. He said the storm water plan had “conflicting goals.”
The Council, which ultimately approved the agreement unanimously, said it was comfortable with the safeguards and alternatives. Several said they get their drinking water from the aquifer as well and are personally motivated to protect the aquifer.
I’m personally uneasy. Having served on Sammamish City committees and commissions for eight years, I understand the process and thinking that went into this Agreement but I’m nonetheless concerned about the affect on the aquifer.