Reader view: It’s past time to protect local streams

Photo courtesy Joe Scordino

Edmonds City staff have now cut off the natural connection of Perrinville Creek to Puget Sound, eliminating over 100 yards of stream habitat that had been essential habitat for coho salmon and cutthroat trout. We’d even had adult chum salmon sighted in the lower creek, suggesting they may be again spawning in the creek (which otherwise was great news for salmon recovery).

The attached photo shows the huge mound of dirt the city placed in the stream channel, sending all of the creek into diversion structures and a pipe to Puget Sound. City staff apparently had to do this because the stream sediment flow from rain storms has changed the stream channel such that it is flooding adjacent residences.

Current and past city councils and mayors have been warned repeatedly for well over 10 (if not 20) years that the storm drains in the upper Perrinville watershed (in Lynnwood and Edmonds) were sending excessive amounts of rainwater into the creek, eroding the streambanks with every heavy rain. And how has the council and mayor responded — they have allowed (and even encouraged) more development in the upper watershed with impervious surfaces and tree removals, causing all surface rainwater to flow into the storm drains instead of into the ground.

It is ironic that Edmonds is noted for its dedicated high school students (Students Saving Salmon) trying to bring salmon back to Edmonds, while the city has had to destroy salmon habitat to prevent residential flooding.

Mayor Nelson — please start paying attention to the environmental issues in Edmonds.

Please direct your staff to require 100% stormwater infiltration on all new development (no exceptions); prevent the unabated cutting of mature trees that otherwise absorb rainfall; work with Lynnwood to address their contribution to the excess stormwater; direct your staff to figure out how to infiltrate existing storm drains directly into the ground rather than piping excess rainwater into the creek.

It’s time for change (actually it’s past time since we’ve lost another salmon stream in Edmonds).

—  By Joe Scordino

A retired fisheries biologist, Joe Scordino lives in Edmonds.

    1. Is it legal to block a salmon stream under state and federal ecology guidelines? Should there have been a SEPA review before the city did this?

  1. Master Gardeners in cooperation with Snohomish county have installed raingardens in the neighborhood in Lynnwood that feeds into the Perrinville watershed to help abate the storm water runoff. This might be a course of action that developers could use the partially offset the loss of trees when they clear cut to make room for houses they plan to plant instead of trees. The upcoming housing plan the city of Edmonds is in the process of developing will not help the situation of storm water run off. In addition the proposal to up zone all single family lots to multiple dwellings (change from 1 dwelling per lot to 2 to 4 dwellings per lot) will only exacerbate the problem by adding more impervious surfaces.
    Everyone who lives in Edmonds, both property owners and renters, need to become aware of the disastrous
    affects this ill advised policy will have on our city and our environment. Please go to the city web site, search for CHC, and look at the policy proposal that has been directed by city staff. After studying the proposal, contact the city council and tell them what you think of the proposal.

  2. “100% stormwater infiltration on all new development (no exceptions)” would be a disaster. Many properties do not have suitable soils. A better and more technically feasible solution is for the City to invest in some targeted stormwater improvements to collect/control/treat the street runoff before it flows into the creek.

    “The upcoming housing plan” does not contain anything contrary to our already strict stormwater code. Drainage requirements are already very strict in Edmonds for new development. The runoff from grandfathered in houses and streets is the major contributor to the problem.

  3. The real issue here is human *encroachment* upon our natural environment. This encroachment is accelerating in Edmonds, and these types of issues (and many more) will continue as we cut down the trees, bull doze the hillsides, and pour more and more concrete.

    Hopefully the the citizenry of Edmonds is paying attention to the plans being submitted to City Council by the housing commission. These plans contain encouragement to more human density and more encroachment. The future is looking pretty good for the developers though.

  4. The state, tribes and federal government have been spending billions of dollars in an effort to recover our ESA listed salmon and steelhead. And while they, metaphorically have been digging us out of the problem we’ve created, Edmonds, literally, is throwing dirt back in that hole. I would hope that there would be appropriate legal action against the government entities involved to restore this creek to enable salmonid species to successfully spawn again in this creek.

  5. Joe, thank you for bring this to our attention. The City’s lack of attention to our local environment is unconscionable.
    I would ask the City government to pay attention to things that it can actually improve.

  6. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Joe. Seems like there are some real conflicts between city policies and actual practices.

  7. Let’s save salmon. All the suggestions above should be considered by the City Council and all the Snohomish County officials : Planning, Building Permits, Street building and maintenance, etc.

  8. The new proposal to the Mayor/Council by the Housing Commission, if adopted, will have a huge impact on these environmental issues. The Commission has proposed increased population density in the City by changing zoning of single-family communities. The proposed rezoning would increase density by allowing multiple small houses on a city lot, duplexes, cluster homes in neighborhoods. This increase in density means more destruction to our environment.
    The proposal will change the character of our City and in the process damage our environment.
    Please look at these proposals by the Housing Commission and make your voice heard on this issue. This proposal will be discussed at the City Council meeting on March 16, 2021. Get your comments to them.!!&app=io.ox/mail&folder=default0/INBOX

  9. What has been done to Perrinville Creek and the entire watershed is horrifying. This adds greater urgency to the issue of development on the land above the creek known as Perrinville woods.
    ( Remember? This is the densely wooded very steep 5 acre plot designed for 14 luxury homes; it was in the news when the developer asked the city to donate some land to the project. Though that was turned down, it appears there is nothing to stop the developer from clearing the land and building on it.)
    Perhaps there is hope that a tree code can be finalized that will mitigate some of the damage of that development, but this latest example of what’s happening in the Perrinville watershed proves that the situation is out of control.
    Having mismanaged development and resulting stormwater runoff there, the city is apparently running out of options to deal with flooding. Yes, this latest fiasco surely must be illegal.
    It is imperative that Perrinville woods be left to absorb as much rainwater as possible. The city must find a way to keep those trees and as many others as possible.

  10. Thanks for shining a light on this situation.
    Climate change ,for us in the NW, means more intense storm days with greater amounts of sudden rainfall.
    Stormwater systems are being inudated throughout the region.
    We must improve our storm water mitigation systems.
    The region is growing faster than past projected expectations.
    We are facing enormous environmental and housing pressures.
    But , I don’t see why Edmonds should be exempt from multi dwelling development on residential lots.
    We are not isolated or different than any other local town/city.
    We will have to share the burden of increased housing development.
    We will have to build up our environmental infrastructure to handle the increased population growth.
    One thing that we have to do is move to 100 percent electrification of our housing and our cars.
    As part of our climate plan , we must ban all new natural gas hookups to all new building construction in Edmonds.
    We need to realize that our old fashioned ways of building independent palaces for ourselves is the real problem.
    I just watched 30 mature conifers come down this week on one lot for a planned 4000 square foot home with an attached dwelling unit and three car garage. This was in the Seaview area , that is part of the Perrinville Creek drainage.
    We are all in this together.
    Edmonds is not immune to growth problems or climate change.
    There is no place to hide.
    IIn fact, the Edmonds archaic notions of “separateness and specialness ” is a major contributing cause of the problems that our region is facing.
    We must be more humble and more engaged with our surrounding region and our environment.
    Thank you.

  11. Obviously more needs to be done, and quickly, to preserve and restore area stream systems and aquatic health. However, Edmonds residents should be aware of the efforts the City HAS made to retrofit the hydrology of the Perrinville Creek watershed. The largest of these efforts is the Seaview Park Stormwater Infiltration Facility which collects, treats and infiltrates runoff from 53 acres of residential development – because of its success, this facility’s capacity will be expanded. The City’s efforts have prompted collaboration with others to make improvements: the City of Lynnwood collects infiltrates runoff from much of the Olympic View Drive corridor, and the residential rain garden program has been expanded with the Snohomish Conservation District to infiltrate runoff from public streets. Keep in mind that most of the City is built out, and the harm done to streams is from our existing housing largely constructed without stormwater controls.

    1. Waresheds & streams need to be living life supporting watersheds. It’s totally possible to achieve that in fully built out areas with appropriate setbacks and vegetation. The problem is development kills everything today and that needs to be taken back a little in the Puget sound.

  12. The comment above is a reminder of the necessity for a responsible Edmonds tree code. The city council will be reviewing the current draft at this Tuesday’s council meeting and citizens might want to comment. Currently there are too many loopholes in the draft to make a real difference in the problem of development killing everything in its path.

  13. Thanks, Joe for your vigilance to our urban streams. Thank you also for your work with local high school kids, adding to their awareness of our environment and the link to salmonids. We all have a bunch of work to do insuring that dollars don’t dictate decisions when it comes to saving our natural beauty.

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