LYNNWOOD — Some Lake Serene homeowners doubt that Snohomish County’s recent emergency drainage fix will keep them dry as they await a long-term solution to flooding problems.
County officials say the lake is draining as intended. Crews completed an emergency bypass pipe in March after an older drain stopped working. The lake hit its highest recorded level in February.
The county reported Monday that the lake has receded by a foot over the past two months. Some homeowners say it hasn’t gone down enough to save their property.
“My pumps are still running 24/7 and the water is still halfway up my lawn,” said Joe Drazich, a retiree who moved into his home earlier this year.
Drazich said he still has 4 inches of water in his crawl space and estimates he’s spent $15,000 on flood-related problems. He figures he could wind up shelling out another $15,000 in repairs before it’s over.
Many neighbors remain upset about the County Council’s March 29 approval of a cost-sharing arrangement to fix lake drainage. The decision imposed a new $197 yearly fee on waterfront property owners over the next decade.
That money is supposed to cover about 20 percent of the estimated $800,000 cost to complete the new drainage system. The county would pick up the rest.
The fee, however, is only being charged on 95 parcels on the lake shore, and not on hundreds of parcels within the watershed that drain toward the lake.
“We’re really the victims here, we’re not the benefactors,” Drazich said.
The temporary fix never was expected to keep the lake as low as it’s been in the past. The emergency bypass completed on March 10 is nearly 2 feet higher than the pipe that failed. To build it lower, the county would have needed additional permits to work below the lake’s normal surface level, said Meghan Jordan, a spokeswoman for the county Public Works Department.
Construction of a long-term solution is expected to start in the summer of 2018. The work is dependent on securing local, state and federal permits. Will Hall, the county’s surface water management director, said he’s working to speed up that timeline.
“I have heard from the community, I have heard from my council and it is my desire to do the emergency fix as soon as I can possibly get it done,” Hall said. “They asked us to try to do it sooner and we’re trying to do it sooner.”
That could include more interim solutions.
Lake Serene lies in an unincorporated area west of Highway 99, near Lynnwood and Mukilteo. Aerial photos from the 1940s show that the lake once drained to the west through a natural creek channel. County officials say they have no records of when the outlet was funneled into a pipe.
The county says that the pipe was failing by 1979, when it was replaced as part of a four-home development.
The lake level fluctuates seasonally, but locals say things have gotten worse in recent years. Their concerns include the numerous drainage pipes that flow into the lake, compared to the single outflow, and the intensity of urban development nearby.
“They’re using the lake as a drainage pond,” said Marc Bhend, who has lived on the Lake Serene waterfront for 37 years.
The problems at the lake come during a historically wet period. The Everett area this year broke a rainfall record for February and March.
Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @NWhaglund.