KODIAK — Garbage and water from the Kodiak Island Borough’s landfill are flowing onto Reed Oswalt’s property on Monashka Bay Road, and the source of the problem may be an ongoing project to expand the landfill.
Oswalt has owned and lived on the 15 acres neighboring the dump since 1976, and has used the property to house his storage business Surf and Turf.
When Oswalt first noticed the water and trash flowing onto his property on Dec. 11, he called the Kodiak Island Borough’s engineering department to report his findings.
“I’m afraid of all the pollution coming into my property on Marmot Drive,” Oswalt said. “It impacts my neighbors.”
Oswalt left for a vacation to Australia at the end of January, and returned April 15, expecting to find his land clean and free of trash.
When he returned, he saw that nothing had been done and there was still water and trash floating through his property.
Oswalt brought five borough assembly members to his property to evaluate the situation.
“I think anybody who looks at the situation would feel that it needs to be corrected,” assembly member Mel Stephens said.
The other assembly members who viewed the property agreed something needs to be done.
“The garbage is clearly the borough’s,” assembly member Tuck Bonney said. “It needs to be cleaned up.”
Oswalt brought the matter to a borough work session on Thursday.
“A berm was constructed in a way that the flow of water hits the berm, and the berm guides it down onto Mr. Oswalt’s property,” Stephens said in the work session. “This was the cheapest way of addressing a problem that clearly was a problem for the landfill. To simply say we’ll put a berm and divert the stream onto someone else’s property is unacceptable.”
The borough plans to have engineering company CH2M Hill look at the seepage and come up with a solution and cost estimate for the drainage, as it could become a long-term problem.
On Monday, Oswalt collected a water sample that will be examined by the city’s sewage treatment facility to see what pollutants the water contains, if any.
This isn’t the first time Oswalt has dealt with unwanted water flowing onto his property. He experienced a similar situation in 1998 when water flowed off land across the highway and onto his property. Back then, he worked with Alaska Highway Department personnel to divert the water using a system of ponds that filter the water naturally, so the small amount of water that does make it to his neighbors’ property is clean. Fourteen years later, the solution is still working.
“I wanted to make sure there was no pollution on my place or my neighbors’ place,” Oswalt said. “This way I get a chance to see what is coming through the water at each pond.”
Oswalt’s proposed solution for the current situation is for the borough to place a berm near the property line to prevent the water from coming onto his property, and to dig a ditch to run the water through borough land to connect to a streambed that will empty water into Marmot Bay.
Oswalt plans to bring his complaint, proposal and the results of the water test to Thursday’s borough assembly meeting.
“I want it settled quickly and locally through the borough,” Oswalt said.
Information from: Kodiak Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com