Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Restoring Tosh Creek improves fish habitat and mitigates flooding in the Overlake neighborhood

City Planner Roger Dane (l) and Project Manager Steve Hitch book-end Tosh Creek

Susan, Bob, and Steve
Credit John Reinke
A few weeks ago Steve Hitch and Roger Dane of the City went out of their way to give Water Tenders’ Susan Wilkins, John Reinke, and myself a short tour of the Tosh Creek Restoration Project.   Do you see the creek running between Roger and Steve?  
Salmon fry and lamprey were found right at this spot in May.  Can you believe it? You've got to watch the City’s fascinating underwater video!    
Tosh Creek is an important tributary to the Sammamish River. Its headwaters are actually in the Overlake neighborhood up the hill from West Lake Sammamish Parkway.  In 2013, the culvert running under the parkway was improved and the stream was re-aligned away from the road to be more "fish friendly," and to reduce sediment build-up near the culvert.  Willows and other native plants were planted to shade the creek and keep it cool. The $1.9M project was managed by Roger Dane and Mike Haley and funded primarily from city stormwater utility funds. 
The Sammamish River's federally protected Chinook salmon and endangered Kokanee salmon need the cool water Tosh Creek provides to thrive and reproduce. Coho salmon and trout live in Tosh Creek. As small as Tosh Creek is, its flow is significant in the Fall when salmon are spawning and need cool water.  
But, the restoration of Tosh Creek does much more than improve fish habitat.  Serious erosion and flooding from stormwater run-off upstream is damaging the creek and threatening adjacent properties.  Thus, the city is installing an expensive stormwater detention system (vault) near 159th Avenue NE. and facilities in 4 other locations.  The cost for the vault is over $8M but the city was able to secure a  $5M grant and $1.6M low interest loan from the Washington State Department of Ecology. 
This is a bit more than a fish story!  At the end of our tour we saw a doe and two fawns wandering south from the creek. Hmmm.... I wonder what they were doing? 
 If you want to participate in the planning process of the vault and treatment facilities, Steve is hosting two September meetings.  For details, GO HERE. 
Bob Yoder

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