City of Homer takes on Beluga Slough drainage efforts at Bishop’s Beach

The City of Homer has taken over Beluga Slough drainage efforts on Bishop’s Beach at the request of property owners on Ocean Drive who previously cleared the area themselves.

Residents recently reported to the Homer News that the slough has been blocked for several months and that a foul smell was emanating from stagnant water, although this has been an obvious feature of the slough since approximately April when storms pushed sand and debris against the drainage.

Dan Kort, public works director for the City of Homer, explained in an email to the Homer News how the blockage initially occurred.

“The currents in Kachemak Bay generally flow along the Homer Shore from west to east and deposit sand and sediment along the way. We will occasionally experience storm events (particularly when they occur during high tides), that will create a storm berm that closes off the mouth of the slough. This is a natural event that occurs approximately every two or three years.”

The City of Homer was contacted by the private property owners in mid-April asking if the city could take over the effort of permitting and contracting the work due to the level of effort required in securing multiple permits from multiple state and federal agencies.

“After consideration, the city decided to take on this effort because the city has a vested interest in maintaining proper drainage from the Beluga Slough because the city has several stormwater outfalls that discharge stormwater to the Beluga Slough, and the ponding in the Beluga Slough could impede stormwater flow to Kachemak Bay creating potential flooding conditions in town,” Kort said.

The city began the permitting process a little over a month ago. Some of these state and federal permits require a month or more time for review and permit issuance. The city expects to have some of these permits in hand this month and possibly may not see the Army Corps of Engineers permit until June or July.

A complicating factor is that a component of storm berm also occurs on property owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and not on city-owned propery. Therefore the city is working in coordination with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge to re-establish proper drainage by reopening the storm berm, Kort expressed in the email.

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