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Dont risk contaminating Luscher Farm area with dredging spoils

by: ,

As the treasurer of the Friends of Luscher Farms, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt corporation, I am expressing my dismay over the plans the city has for storing the dredging spoils from the LOIS (Lake Oswego Interceptor Sewer) project adjacent to Luscher Farm. The city is proposing the storage of 19,000 cubic yards of untested, potentially contaminated dredging spoils on the Firlane/Lang property, which abuts the eastern border of Luscher Farm. This property is in the watershed for the Wilson Stream corridor, abuts the C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture) and the Luscher Farm Community Gardens.

The city has obtained a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers nationwide category automatic DEQ (404 section 10 ) certification (permit No. 2008-123) which requires no testing for contaminants. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, no testing is required if the dredging spoils are removed out of area, they are not deposited back into the lake and thus any contamination associated with the uplands disposal of the spoils becomes the problem of the Oregon DEQ.

What is required from the Oregon DEQ is a Solid Waste Letter of Authorization before the city proceeds with the dumping of spoils on the Firlane/Lang property.

There is the very real potential of ground water contamination and its resultant effect on human and wildlife health by using this property as a spoils site. I have been by told city employees that one of the reasons the sewer interceptor wasn't constructed several years ago (for $45 million) was that of disturbing potential contaminates on the bottom of the lake. That pipe would have been similar to the existing sewer interceptor and not the floating system now approved for construction.

As an organization, The Friends of Luscher Farms was incorporated in May, 2006 to promote the conservation, preservation, enhancement, scientific understanding, appreciation of the waters, wetlands, wildlife habitats, scenic and open spaces and the recreational resources of Luscher Farm property. The Friends of Luscher Farms have been actively seeking grants and matching funds for the restoration of the Lang property. We have been in constant contact and meetings with the city of Lake Oswego for over six months regarding our restoration and funding plans. We have gotten nothing for our efforts but the runaround, missed deadlines, and seemingly disingenuousness from the city.

We had $9,100 in WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program) funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Services of the USDA lined up with contracts ready to be signed Monday morning on July 21 at (Lake Oswego) City Hall. The final straw happened Friday, July 18, when the city was unwilling to sign a letter of indemnity assuring the Friends of Luscher Farms would not be held in breach of contract if we were unable fulfill our contractual responsibilities due to any changes in the use of the property by the city.

The $9,100 WHIP funding would have led to a $20,000 grant from Pheasants Forever for continued restoration on the Firlane/Lang Property. One would have thought the city would have been overjoyed to have and work with a group of responsible, concerned Lake Oswego citizens and volunteers undertaking the preservation and restoration of open space lands. Little did we suspect that the city was planning on using this property as a dredging spoils repository.

We had suspected something was afoot but thought it was more likely that no one was talking to anyone else in the various city departments. The least the city could have done was to inform us of their intent. Although this may not have lessened our concerns, it would have gone a long way towards building trust between the city and its residents.

I rather feel this is indicative of the way this city continues to do business. But as a close friend of mine responded: 'as Gomer Pyle would say: 'Surprise, Surprise.''

Russell Jones, Lake Oswego, is a declared candidate for the Lake Oswego City Council.