Reader view: When will the city do the right thing for our creeks?

Here’s a current photo of what a local salmon bearing stream should not look like. This is lower Perrinville Creek, which is now illegally blocking salmon passage because stormwater infrastructure is inadequate to handle heavy rainfall, much of which comes from development in Lynnwood.

Over two years ago, when the lower creek was blocked by City of Edmonds employees to prevent the flooding of adjacent residences, Mayor Nelson promised to immediately develop a restoration plan for Perrinville Creek that would be presented to the city council (and public) for approval and implementation (see March 2, 2021 My Edmonds News). This announcement excited many because such a restoration plan would finally address a “fragile” watershed problem that had been identified in studies undertaken over 25 years ago. A properly developed restoration plan with alternatives for restoring and protecting salmon habitat as well as streamside property owners was exactly the right thing to do.

Instead, what have we got? A piecemeal approach of contractors trying to redesign culverts and creek configuration with no assurance it will prevent flooding or provide low-gradient salmon spawning habitat that isn’t covered in sediment with each rainstorm. And, upstream we have stormwater engineers acknowledging that their current plans to reduce stormwater flows into the creek will be inadequate to address the more intense rainfall events predicted with climate change. Further, we have yet to see the City of Lynnwood step up and acknowledge their stormwater contribution to the damage being done to the creek and Edmonds residences.

I have to wonder if Edmonds could have been a grant recipient of the huge amount of infrastructure funds appropriated by Congress (with matching funds assistance from Lynnwood) if we just had a Perrinville Watershed Restoration Plan that laid out what was needed to resolve the excess stormwater problem — such as a diversion structure that would send excess stormwater flows into a pipe under 76th Avenue rather than the torrent of water that crashes into the creek just below the Perrinville Post Office with each rainstorm.

The most depressing aspect of all this is that heavy rain flows off streets and buildings are damaging all of the creeks in Edmonds, not just Perrinville. Further, where obvious, identifiable fixes can be made to maintain outdoor recreation access and protect salmon habitat, such as in Yost Park, city staff have advised the city council that fixes to the natural areas of our Parks is not an administration priority.

— By Joe Scordino

Joe Scordino is a retired fishery biologist and a 40-plus-year Edmonds resident.



  1. Thank you Joe!
    I do not understand why this man made, poorly designed Perrinville Creek “disaster” and salmon habitat protection at Yost Park are not priorities.

    There are public funds available for salmon restoration projects.
    All it takes is will.

    Local government will eventually respond to pressure from constituents if it occurs regularly and from many different voices.
    The squeaking wheel gets the grease.
    So SQUEAK!

    Please let Mayor Nelson and the Edmonds City Council know that restoring our salmon habitat and creeks are a priority for you!

  2. Thank u for caring about Edmonds creeks I reported creek in Yost park to city 30 plus years ago when first salamanders died out then frogs – plus it was a dumping ground for paint. It’s not too late to take action.

  3. Thank you Joe for your experience and insight on this matter.

    Our neighborhood has been trying to bring attention to the severe erosion and sediment problems that have occurred in Perrinville Creek, especially in recent years with the increase in rainfall events and construction in the area that create heavy water flow into the Creek. We have gotten little or no response.

    A total restoration and prevention plan for the entire Perrinville Creek is desperately needed and long overdue. It would be good to see salmon in the stream once again.

  4. Thank you, Joe. You say “upstream we have stormwater engineers acknowledging that their current plans to reduce stormwater flows into the creek will be inadequate to address the more intense rainfall events predicted with climate change.”

    It is a serious failure of Mayor Nelson’s administration that funds have not been obtained to address Perrinville Creek drainage issues. Not prioritizing “heavy rain flows off streets and buildings [that] are damaging all of the creeks in Edmonds, not just Perrinville” is also a failure in leadership.

    Mayor Nelson’s lack of action will result in further damage to our invaluable environmental assets. The “Draft Vision Statement” for our 2024 Comprehensive Plan update says, in part, “We value environmental stewardship.” Apparently, these are just empty words.

  5. Excellent comments! We have an opportunity now to do something about restoration of two major creeks: Perrinville and Shell. The good news is Perrinville has been identified as the top priority for watershed restoration, and a plan is being formed to address it. The bad news is there are a large number of stakeholders to pull together in a coordinated response: Lynnwood, WDFW, BNSF, Ecology, the tribes, local property owners and others. It will be helpful for citizens to remain aware and involved in keeping strong focus on this issue. Similarly, we have an opportunity to restore Shell Creek to enable salmon to return as far as Yost Park (and unlike Perrinville creek, chum and coho salmon are already returning to the lower portion of Shell Creek—we just need to help them access more of it). There are hurdles to overcome, including a man-made waterfall near 7th Ave which is impossible for salmon to pass over, severe sedimentation caused by bank erosion in Yost Park, poor culvert design, etc. But these are surmountable problems, and will require political will and citizen support.

    1. Thank you for your comments Councilman Teitzel.

      Can I suggest getting WIRA 8 involved in this project if they are not already.
      The Meadowdale Beach estuary restoration is an example of this sort of complicated project being done successfully.
      I believe Senator Maria Cantwell was involved in that project.

      John Brock

    1. I hope future generations won’t look back and curse us for allowing salmon to go extinct due to our lack of environmental restoration and our negligence in preventing further environmental damage. Joe knows the Perrinville Creek Watershed as well as anyone and his observations and calls for action are credible. It’s time for us citizens to speak up and for Public Works, our Council, and our Mayor to find the will and the $ to stabilize the creek flow and create a healthy environment for salmon, as well as for the homeowners who are constantly dealing with flooding issues.

  6. I assume the permitting of man made dams, ponds and waterfalls on private property, that adversely alters our watersheds, is grandfathered in; if done prior to the days of required Environmental Impact Statements. Has anyone researched if the current law provides for the retraction of such permitting if property is sold to new owners or conveyed to family members who have not had prior actual ownership? It might take some state and local private property ownership re-legislation to ever solve some of these watershed issues. If the state can just do away with local zoning laws; it seems like it could also force people to make amendments to their property that are good for the environment. Food for thought.

    1. Clinton,

      The “man-made waterfall near 7th Ave” that Council member Teitzel referenced, was built in conjunction with the condominium there. This barrier is downstream from a Federally funded fish ladder that was built in 1990 under Daley Street between 7th Ave N and 8th Ave N. When approving the salmon blocking structure, Planning staff were aware of the fish ladder upstream.

      There is now a three story, approx 1000 sq ft, house against a steep slope and next to Shell Creek where the fish ladder was built. The owner’s outdoor patio is a deck built over the fish ladder. The deck had been built as part of the Federal project, and was meant as a public viewing platform to watch salmon swim upstream to spawn.

      Steep slopes and creeks are critical areas, yet the developer received approval to build this house. Edmonds Development Services Department has a history of failure to enforce our critical areas ordinances.

  7. Great letter, Joe. Our city is once again spending money on additional “studies” and not doing anything to actually address the problem that they have in part created. What I see happening is the city is repeating a study that was conducted in 2015 on this exact same area of lower Perrinville Creek. I wonder if the conclusions will be any different. How much money has been spent on these studies over the years? How much money has been spent to fix the problem?

    Let’s also not forget that Mayor Nelson, at the last minute, pulled $2M from the 2023 budget that was earmarked for Perrinville Creek to fund pet projects. And the Council approved it! So, there is plenty of blame to go around.

    A little leadership would help to get all the parties together to develop a solution. We lack leadership!

    We’re lucky to have concerned citizens like Joe to bring a spotlight to these issues.

  8. As usual Joe is right. Putting streams into pipes is not restoration but just another engineering nightmare. Time to realize this is 2023 and not 1950. Time to restore our creeks and streams and enbale the salmon fishery to be restored. That we are still paying consultants to restudy what we already know and that credible residents can provide advice about would be time better spent. The inaction by the City (Mayor and Council) is inexcusable.

  9. Unfortunately much of the official actions and rules concerning the environment in general are just another way for our agencies to grab a little more money. When we added on a deck 20 some years ago we had to have a city inspection to confirm we were not building on a possible wetland. (Our lot hasn’t been a wetland since the glacier formed the Bowl). Fast forward, we rebuild that deck and I have to pay the city a $100+ fee to confirm that a wetland hadn’t formed because time had expired on the original wetland inspection permit. Nonsense; while actual problems get studied to death by “experts” and go unsolved.

  10. Thanks Joe. You always hit a home run! Dave T. pointed out the complexity of all the stakeholders and one of the biggest players in this is the county. The creek runs through a county park! My bet is some of these stakeholders are not on the same page for how to pay for the needed work.

    Joe points our this is storm water. Not sure of the boundaries for this watershed but clearly Lynnwood and unincorporated Snohomish County are major contributors. At some point to help clean up Puget Sound storm water will need to be treated. We did some form of treatment around the new Civic Park. Maybe the city can help us all understand the need for and cost of treatment plants for storm and wastewater.

    Joe, thanks for keeping us informed.

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