Council approves contracts to continue green infrastructure project

Homer city council passed three resolutions during their last regular meeting on Oct. 9 for the continuance of the Beluga Slough Green Infrastructure Project.

Similar to the Kachemak Sponge Green Infrastructure Stormwater Treatment System, the Beluga Slough project intends to utilize nature-based treatment for storm water that currently is not being treated.

Public Works Director Jan Keiser provided to the council a more detailed explanation of the project and what the proposed resolutions would do during the Committee of the Whole, which preceded the regular council meeting.

Keiser explained that there currently exists a 36-inch culvert that flows down Bunnell Avenue and picks up water from Main Street and south, the whole of Old Town Homer, and a large area north of Pioneer Avenue.

“It picks up a lot of water and carries it down and dumps it off the end of Bunnell into a ditch with no benefit of treatment or anything like that,” she said. “So this project will put a structure at the end of Bunnell which will trap sediment, hydrocarbons and chemicals … typical contaminants that flow off the roads.

“Water will flow into the structure, sediment would fall out. These contaminants would be filtered out, cleaner water would go into the Slough, and we would use the wetlands at the end of the Slough. That whole area around where the Slough ebbs and flows with the tide would be used as nature-based treatment similar to what we’re doing up at Kachemak Sponge,” Keiser said.

Resolution 23-103 approves a sole source contract with Fritz Creek Welding to fabricate custom metal parts to be used in a storm water treatment installation that will filter out particulates, dissolved metals and other contaminants before the storm water is discharged into Beluga Slough.

Resolution 23-104 approves a sole source contract with Jay Rand to fabricate a custom concrete vault, to be used in conjunction with the metal parts fabricated by Fritz Creek Welding in the treatment device to filter storm water before it is discharged.

These two resolutions are geared toward the construction of a storm water treatment system comprised of a large, poured-in-place concrete vault with metal baffles, “sort of like a big septic tank,” which will collect sediment that falls out of the water flow. The City turned to local vendors for procurement of custom system components after discovering that commercial storm water treatment devices were not only expensive and difficult to ship from the Lower 48, but only had “marginal efficacy.”

“This not only keeps the business local, it gives us a more cost-effective system that provides more efficient treatment,” Keiser wrote in the Sept. 27 memo.

Resolution 23-105 authorizes an increase to an existing contract with Coble Geophysical Services, LLC for their continued work on the Beluga Slough Green Infrastructure Project. Coble was originally issued a task order, authorized by Resolution 23-041, for project design, site testing to ascertain the suitability of the existing soils for a nature-based storm water treatment facility and researching the type of facility that would be compatible with the site’s soils, groundwater levels and vegetation, Resolution 23-105 states.

An issue arose with the project when staff found that “much of the soils at the Beluga Slough site have dried out over time due to the City’s construction of a gravel berm that extends into the Beluga Slough wetland,” according to the resolution. Efforts to work around the issue have caused the City to “fully expend” the original contract with Coble. As the project requires continuation, the City has allotted more funds to the contract, noting that “the majority of Coble’s professional fees will be covered by proceeds from the Alaska Clean Water Actions grant the City received to fund the project.

Because of the issues caused by the gravel berm, a Sept. 27 memorandum to the council from Keiser noted that staff have been looking for a supplemental site to the Beluga Slough site for the purposes of storm water treatment. One potential site was located on Hansen Avenue, off of the lower part of Main Street, which city staff will investigate for future development while continuing to develop the original site on Bunnell Avenue.

“There’s a couple of houses off (Hansen Avenue), so it’s an undeveloped right of way, but it is used as a driveway, and the end of that road empties into the property that is currently owned by Fish and Wildlife, just below Islands and Oceans,” Keiser said at the Committee of the Whole meeting. “It’s a very active wetland, a lot of water flows around in there. It already accepts stormwater from the Islands and Oceans property, and it’s a beautiful site for nature-based treatment.”

Keiser also noted that Fish and Wildlife is interested in partnering with the City to work on Hansen Avenue, including the possible removal of the gravel berm.

“Once we remove the gravel berm, that area (of Beluga Slough) will be restored because it will once again be flooded,” Keiser said.

Council member Rachel Lord raised a question about replacing the trail that currently runs along the gravel berm.

“The vision is that we would replace the trail that’s on the berm with a larger expansion of the elevated trail,” Keiser said. “There are funds currently in the HART Trails fund that would cover the cost of the replacement trail.”

The full presentation to council by Keiser during the meeting of the Committee of the Whole is available at

The resolutions can be found at

Backup material to Resolution 23-103 contains proposals related to Hansen Avenue and more detailed plans for the locally fabricated custom storm water treatment system. These can also be viewed at

The next regular city council meeting will be held on Monday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. in the Cowles Council Chambers at City Hall.