Port Angeles Utility Advisory Committee suggests up to $156,731 more for landfill bluff consultant

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — An advisory panel has recommended the City Council approve up to $156,731 more for the city’s consultant working on how to shore up a failing bluff that keeps buried garbage from falling into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The amendment, the sixth to the contract with Seattle-based firm Herrera Environmental Consultants, would increase the total contract amount to $2.9 million if approved by the council.

The money, recommended unanimously by the city’s Utility Advisory Committee on Tuesday, would pay for Herrera to complete permitting and groundwater investigations for the project at the city’s shuttered landfill at the end of 18th Street, city Engineering Manager Kathryn Neal said.

The project is expected to total $19.6 million, with about $3.9 million from the state Department of Ecology that will not have to be repaid.

The city is to pay the remaining $15.7 million.

The landfill project would move about 250,000 cubic yards of buried waste from the portion of the landfill closest to the failing bluff and rebury it farther back.

The ends of a seawall built at the base of the bluff would be buttressed to slow erosion, and woody debris would be placed at the mouth of nearby Dry Creek, just west of the landfill bluff, city officials have said.

The latter would partially restore habitat at the creek mouth and help prevent it from shifting and eroding the adjacent bluff, above which the landfill sits, Neal explained.

“We’d actually like to have construction start within the month of May,” Neal said.

Neal said the permitting work Herrera will complete, likely by February, will involve submitting applications to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state departments of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources for the Dry Creek work.

Additional Army Corps permits are needed to augment the existing seawall with large boulders to prevent waves from eroding the bluff around and behind the wall, Neal said.

This permit also will serve as an “after-the-fact” permit for the initial construction of the seawall in 2007, Neal explained.

“[The Army Corps is] going to get to review the whole thing,” Neal said.

“Because some of the work we’re doing now is clearly within their jurisdiction and some we feel is not, we’re just going to do a comprehensive application so there won’t be any complications.”

The city did not initially apply for an Army Corps permit when the seawall was built because city officials felt one was not needed, Neal said.

The Army Corps disagreed then, and the city has been working closely with the federal agency to determine how best to make sure all permitting requirements are met, Neal explained.

“The after-the-fact permit means the wall itself is bundled in with all the current actions,” Neal said, adding that the city and the Army Corps determined together this comprehensive permit would be the best route.

City Engineer Mike Puntenney said the other part of the amendment to Herrera’s contract will pay for installation of three groundwater monitoring wells to see whether water has pooled at the bottom of the landfill section that will be emptied.

This work would need to be done during construction anyway, Puntenney explained, and could end up costing the city more if construction crews discover unexpected groundwater.

“We’re just moving the cost from the construction side to the design side with the substantial prospect of saving a bunch of money,” Puntenney said at the Tuesday meeting.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 15. 2014 6:42PM
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