Tag Archives: ditches

‘Enhanced ditches’ worry Illahee area resident

The in basket: Cathy Williams of Sunset Avenue near Illahee is concerned about a project Kitsap County has launched in front of her house, deepening the ditches on Sunset’s west side, lining them with yard bark and lining the culverts with baseball-sized rocks. Plantings will be next,  the work crew told her.

She hadn’t paid anything to have it done, didn’t know it was going to be done and she worried that it looked like problems in the making, she said.

A vehicle straying too far to the right might break down the edges of the deepened ditches, she feared, and it seemed an odd time of year for the work and for planting anything. “We’re worried it will undermine the sides of the street when it gets rainy,” she added.

The out basket:  Mindy Fohn, the county’s water quality manager, explained the work, called “enhanced ditches,” and being done along 400 feet of Sunset Avenue.

“These are similar to rain gardens – where storm water is slowed down and provided the opportunity to soak into the underlying soil,” she said. “The edges of the deeper ditches should hold up just fine, as we completed an installation on Shadow Glen Boulevard (near Bangor) and haven’t seen a problem.  The shoulders will be maintained along with the facility if any issues arise.”

The Sunset Avenue project “was identified in the larger ‘Illahee Stormwater Retrofit Project,’ where the county is working to find methods to soak in runoff or hold it back for a slower release,” Mindy said. “The benefit is to prevent erosion in Illahee Creek and increase the groundwater flow for fish during the dry summer months.

“To hold water back for gradual release, the storm pond in the development of Sheffield Park off Troy Lane (slightly to the northwest) recently was enlarged and naturalized.  In the future, storm water facilities will be enhanced on the (Rolling Hills) golf course – this is currently in the design phase.

“(In) ditch enhancement, the ditch is dug deeper than usual and about 12-18 inches of a special mix of compost and sand is laid on top of the scarified native soils to enhance the ability of storm water to drain into these soils.  We are finding that these systems perform better than expected and do a good job of soaking up runoff during small and medium rain storms, which carry more of the road pollutants. But you will see runoff during the higher intensity and larger rain storms.

“There is some erosion in the (Sunset Avenue) ditches (but) no muddy water is leaving the site.  The erosion will be corrected when it’s planted in 2 – 3 weeks.

“The county has developed a list of mostly native plants for these projects and those likely planted will be slough sedge, slender rush, Oregon iris and coastal strawberry. The sedges and rushes thrive in the frequently wet bottom area of the enhanced ditches and rain gardens.

“Projects are chosen based on known erosion and water quality problems in creeks, estuaries or lakes.

“This project was mentioned in the Illahee Newsletter last summer when we were marking the roads during the design phase. Maybe the county should have done a better job of letting the community know about the project.

“This area of the ditch is fairly flat so we are comfortable with constructing now.  Additionally, planting during the fall/winter is optimum for plant establishment. The county will water the plants with a water truck during the dry season and the plants should be completely established and self-sufficient by the third year. The county’s green maintenance crew will add Sunset Avenue to its growing list of over 80 green storm water sites – rain gardens, naturalized ponds, and enhanced ditches.

“(Ms. Williams) is correct that we didn’t request any funds – as she paid $78 this year for a comprehensive storm water management program which funds many green projects and more.

“For more information how the fees are spent, visit www.cleanwaterkitsap.org.  If landowners are interested in what they can do on their own properties to soak up runoff and receive a rebate of up to $1,000, visit the Kitsap Conservation District Rain Garden Cost-Share page at http://kitsapcd.org/programs/raingarden-lid.”

Ditches consume possible room for bicycles and pedestrians, reader says

The in basket: Chris Olmsted thinks the city of Port Orchard could make things easier for pedestrians and bicyclists between Westbay and Retsil by filling in some ditches.

“Improvements to this scenic ride will bring in tourists, improve property values and give runners, walkers and cyclists a place to improve their fitness levels,” he said, adding, “I ride this route asking myself why are we holding on to 19th Century technology –  ditches.

“Why doesn’t the city of Port Orchard use new technology to deal with water runoff? New technology would widen the road, making it safer for all users while creating additional width for walkers.

“The current road is not safe for cyclists,” Chris said. “There is absolutely no shoulder along Bay Street to Retsil and lane widths are also narrow.  Why is right of way land on one side of the road being wasted by ditches while on the other side lifestyles are being destroyed?”

That a last was referring to the struggle the city council is going through about how to extend the existing waterfront bike and pedestrian trail from Westbay, which might involve condemning some homes.

The out basket: City Public Works Director Mark Dorsey replies, “Within the city limits, we have both roadside ditch storm water conveyance and closed system storm water conveyance (catch basins and pipe.)  Both are viable conveyance system alternatives, used where applicable.

“It is unreasonable to think that the city would initiate a program to install closed conveyance systems throughout the city for numerous reasons (tremendous cost to storm utility rate payers, unintended consequences associated with closed conveyance installation, potential outfall upgrades, water quality reduction associated with loss of vegetation, etc.)

“Roadway and shoulder widths also vary within the city,” Mark continued, “as do designated bike routes, and I concur that there are areas of the city that are very pedestrian friendly and areas that are not and choosing a route in which you are comfortable based on your level of experience is at your discretion. But I do not agree that closing in roadside ditches is the simple solution.

“With respect to your specific route, Bay Street to Retsil, the city is working diligently to complete a state-approved multi-modal pathway from downtown to Annapolis and I hope you will be pleased with the improvement once completed.

“Finally, I can say that most cyclists that I do speak to understand that it is their legal right to ride within the traveled way when needed and to follow the same rules of the road as a motorist.”