With floodwaters in Bonney Lake continuing to rise, the city raced to set up a water pump to take the water off 62nd Street and into Lake Tapps.
The flood started in late December, when residents began noticing that water on 62nd Street, 187th Street and the intersection of 188th and 62nd was not returning to the ground and started covering the roads.
By mid-February, the water was close to 4-feet deep in some areas, which made vehicle access to homes impossible. Mail service to affected homes has been restricted and one home temporarily lost Internet and phone service at the beginning of the month.
The reason why the city waited a month before taking action, said city engineer John Woodcock, was the affected area only flooded once in the last 20 years. The 1996 flood was due to a heavy snowstorm followed by warm rain, which filled the area with water faster than the ground could absorb it.
“It always goes into the ground. Always has in the past,” Woodcock said. “There was nothing in the past that suggested this water was not going into the ground.”
Laying pipe and closing roads
Pipes to carry the water were laid down Feb. 16 along 65th Street and 64th Street.
A portable pump was taken from sewer lift station 17 in Bonney Lake and moved to 65th Street Feb. 17 in order to start pumping water the following day.
The pump is estimated to move 1,000 gallons of water a minute.
The city tested the pump Friday and started pumping water 24/7 Monday, Feb. 22 to Friday, Feb. 26 to see what sort of impact the pump is making on water levels.
At that point, the staff will reassess and decide if pumping should continue or if other short-term solutions need to be considered, city officials told residents.
If Bonney Lake decides pumping remains the best option, then the city will determine whether to keep pumping for 24 hours a day or go down to between eight and ten hours a day.
Woodcock estimates it would take between six to eight weeks to bring the water down to a manageable level if the city only pumped during the work day. The city estimated the options to cost around $20,000, the cost of renting piping and other materials.
But if the city cranked up the overtime, Woodcock estimated the city could slash the project timeline in half to around 3 1/2 weeks. This would reduce renting costs but the city would have to pay its employees overtime, coming to an estimated total of $20,200.
The reason Bonney Lake isn’t jumping the overtime option straight away is because of the city’s budget. The city needs to make progress on addressing the emergency but also balance the line items being affected, Woodcock said.
The city is also looking at a combination of overtime and regular hour pumping, and a fourth option of renting a pump from Godwin pumps is also being considered.
The water is being pumped into a water catch basin on West Tapps Highway East and will be fed into Lake Tapps. Cascade Water Alliance gave the city permission to put water into the lake last week.
According to the city, 64th Street will remain open while the water is being pumped. However, the intersection of 64th Street and 195th Avenue will be closed.
195th Avenue will still be accessible from 67th street.
Residents along 64th street will notice flexible piping crossing their driveways; city officials said it is possible to drive over this piping without damaging the pipe.
In addition to pumping the water, the walkway some of the neighborhood’s residents were using to get around the flood was improved by the city’s Public Works Department.
The improvements include a wider trail and a retaining wall separating people on the walkway from the edge of the trail.
The city also met with a company about potentially building pedestrian bridges across the water on 185th and 187th Avenues, but due to the cost ($10,752 a month plus a $42,894 installation and removal fee), the city is going to wait and see if pumping the water has any affect before pursuing that option, Woodcock said.
City staff installed a foot bridge on 188th Friday.
The house at the end of 62nd Street remains accessible only by boat.
DM disposal has visited the site and provided residents with two dumpsters – one on 59th Street and another close to the intersection of 188th and 62nd Street.
Mail is still being picked up by residents at the post office, Woodcock said, but he hopes to change that in a few weeks.