Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
What's Up with Beaver Creek and Other News
What's Up With Beaver Creek? Seal Rock Water District Plans New Water System

Beaver Creek Wetlands, Lincoln County. Courtesy ORCA
The Seal Rock Water District has big plans for the area around Beaver Creek in Lincoln County, which consists of a cluster of  privately protected wetlands and Brian Booth State Park. Beaver Creek itself is a much-loved water recreation trail popular with canoeists and kayakers. The area is quite undisturbed; privately protected wetlands in the area include several protected by the Wetlands Conservancy and purchased with the help of Waldport Elementary School and Newport High School, as commemorated by a plaque onsite. But Seal Rock Water District would like to industrialize the area by building an entirely new water supply system for its customers. Currently, the District gets its water from the nearby town of Toledo. But instead of repairing aging pipes, the District has quietly, for years now, been making plans for a whole new water supply system. The engineering and environmental reports are here.

The project includes:

1. A water intake on Beaver Creek using submersible pumps (the District has a water right on Beaver creek for 2.0 cfs).
2. A point of diversion by South Beaver Creek Road Bridge
3. A new treatment plant at Makai, on land owned by the District; which will require a new 500,000 gallon tank
4. A new raw water pipeline alongside South and North Beaver Creek Roads - there are wetlands on both sides of those roads.
5. A Beaver Creek crossing, via horizontal directional drilling, to place the pipeline underneath the river.
6. A new pipeline to pipe waste flow from backwash ponds back into Beaver Creek.

In August, the District reported it had received funding, mostly loans, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Business Oregon infrastructure finance authority monies. There are several very important questions about this whole process. First, the District has kept it very low key, holding only one real public meeting, several years ago. Yet the Beaver Creek area is highly popular with recreationists, who do not seem to be aware of the project at all. Second, the project will industrialize an area completely free of pipelines, water intakes and pumps and treatment plants. This is highly inappropriate for such an ecologically important area. Undoubtedly proponents would argue that construction disruptions are "temporary," but in fact the industrialization of the area would be permanent. Third, what effect will this project have on the water table and the wetlands? Seal Rock Water District's municipal right of 2 cfs for Beaver Creek could easily affect the wetlands and the delicate relationship they have with the groundwater and surface water.

Finally, why are state and federal monies being used to allow this project, when public monies were also used to protect the very wetlands the project would disrupt? This seems to be very bad policy: to subsequently allow a large water delivery project that will jeopardize the publicly-funded conservation projects already in place. The District itself recognizes that placing a water supply system inside the earthquake and tsunami inundation zone "is a huge challenge," as SRWD General Manager Adam Denlinger is quoted as saying in an August 13, 2019 Newport News-Times article.

Indeed the challenges are many for this project, and the impact on the pristine, and protected, Beaver Creek area is completely unnecessary. SRWD would do much better to repair and strengthen its Toledo water pipeline, and let the protected wetlands of Beaver Creek alone. For further information, please contact ORCA Executive Director Cameron La Follette.

Gravel Mining Proposal on the Pistol: Expanded Plans Revealed on Appeal

Ron Adams Expanded Pistol River Gravel Mining Map. Courtesy Curry County
Ron Adams' proposal to mine gravel in the highly eroded lower Pistol River was denied by the Curry County planning commission, because his application was really not an application at all - just meandering statements about how removing gravel from a gravel bar would be positive for salmon. Adams appealed the denial to the Board of Commissioners. 

In his new submission to the Board, dated November 11th, Adams unveiled a vastly expanded proposal: he now proposes to remove gravel from four sites in the lower Pistol, using portable rock crushers, along with the usual dump trucks and loaders. He aims for 8 to 10 thousand cubic yards of gravel removal, hoping to sell the gravel for local road repair projects. This sudden expansion is not the application the planning commission denied, and is not the proposal that came before the Board of Commissioners. The Board would be wise to ignore it, rather than kindle an entirely new public process for a new plan that is exactly as vague, inaccurate and damaging to the Pistol as the original proposal.

Even Adams himself recognizes that gravel removal he will undertake if granted a permit would be useless for river restoration and salmon habitat: "The sediment that we are planning to remove has been deposited here in the last three to four years...This will be replaced almost immediately by the abnormal transport of material that is upstream...We acknowledge that more keep coming..." [grammar as in original].

Landowners in the lower Pistol region have begun meeting as a community, with an eye to investigating restoration possibilities that will help the severely abraded river, beginning with small opportunities and working up to larger and more complex restoration plans that would involve the heavily logged and roaded upper watershed. These are contributing much of the sediment that clogs the lower river. These community efforts would be much more valuable than Adams' ill-considered and vague proposals. ORCA continues to work with residents on finding solutions to the Pistol's many problems, and continues to work oppose the poorly conceived Adams application for gravel mining.

Facebook Submarine Cable: Approval and Appeal, Hearing December 9th

Tierra del Mar Aerial Photo. Courtesy Ed Ruttledge
The Tillamook County planning commission, on a 5-2 vote, approved the application of Edge Cable/Facebook to site a Jupiter submarine cable landing on a residential lot in the little rural community of Tierra del Mar. This is a rather isolated hamlet with no cell service, fire hydrants, stores or commercial infrastructure. Projects like this should not be placed in residential communities. Tierra del Mar is no place for the gigantic industrial equipment needed onsite for weeks and months to install the cable system in a conduit under the beach and out to sea. If the project were to go ahead, the way would be open for Facebook to expand with additional cable installation at a later time, further disrupting the community.

The majority of TDM residents are solidly opposed to this project, as is Oregon Coast Alliance. There would be no benefit to Tillamook County residents; Facebook representatives themselves said the TDM project would support services used in places like Indonesia, India, Japan and Hong Kong. All of these are a very long ways from Tillamook County.

A key question all along has been whether a fiber optic cable system like this is a "similar use" to a public facility, such as a transmission line. Facebook of course argues that it is. But in fact it is not, because public facilities provide needed services; a fiber optic cable to the Far East is certainly not needed in Tillamook County. However, the planning commission voted that the Edge Cable project is a similar use - and then voted, also 5-2, to approve the conditional use application.

TDM residents and Oregon Coast Alliance immediately appealed the decision to the Board of Commissioners, in four separate appeals. The hearing will be held:

Monday, December 9, 2019
10:00 AM
Tillamook County Courthouse
Commissioners Rooms A and B
201 Laurel Avenue

Please send testimony to Sarah Absher. Documents, including testimonies and staff reports, at the Planning Commission level and for the Board of Commissioners appeal can be found here.

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