October 13, 1975.
Regarding closure of the Columbia Slough, I respectfully submit these reminders for your worthy consideration before a final decision is reached this week;
Very few citizens are involved in trying to keep the slough open, but, fewer still are pressing to close it with a plug.
Why is it so urgent to plug it now? It has been a natural waterway for many thousands of years offering so many benefits and conveniences that its minimal disadvantages are completely outweighed. Why is there now so much emphasis on flood control? With present controls of rivers, excessive flooding is impossible. The only flood planes in the slough are already diked and with customary reinforcement and maintenance (as with all dikes) there is no problem and no danger. These very same dikes resisted the 1948 Vanport Flood.
If new dikes are required, there is no need for any along the south shore of the slough as no flood plane exists here through out the full seven and one half mile length; The north shore is already diked from the golf course at Marine Drive, around the farm area and camp ground, around the race track and Delta Park areas, and up to the UP rail road near its emergence from the tunnel. This stretch of diking is all that is necessary and is less than half the length of the slough besides being on one side only. Under the most extreme critical examination this dike would require reinforcing only, tho this has not been very necessary in the past.
The only areas remaining in the flood plane are Triangle Lake, west, across the RR fill from Delta Park Golf Course, and the Smith and Bybee Lake areas; Flooding has been the main cause and support of these lakes in the past and since these areas are set aside for recreation-boating, swimming, fishing, etc., flooding will be necessary for their survival.
At one hearing it was revealed the seepage from 160,000 septic tanks in the East County Area eventually enters the Columbia Slough at its upper end. Please consider the putrid mess and the dire health hazard with this at one end and a garbage dump at the other and a plug at the mouth to prevent the escape of such filth.
Please consider why the Corps of Engineers wishes to plug this natural canal and waterway on the Oregon side of the Columbia River, confining all the filth it transports, and at the same time wishes to dig a canal directly across the Columbia River to drain the same kind of filth out of Vancouver Lake.
The plugging of the slough a few years ago seemed to me a deliberate attempt to eliminate it completely,; With dredging and filling in progress at the time in Rivergate, a plug at the mouth of the slough could prevent the run-off from filling and could have easily caused the slough to fill completely. Luckily this didn't happen to a great extent; The plug was for the most part removed, but I wonder if it wasn't an expensive way of doing more harm than good.
I am in favor of leaving the Columbia Slough open and cleaning it out, something as in Plan #8. I am opposed to a plug at its mouth; If a plug is to be inserted, I believe it should be above (up stream) the railroad bridge opposite the Delta Park Golf Course. If any protection is offered by a plug, it will serve better at this site, leaving the lower half of the slough open and natural as it should be.
Many hundreds of miles of dikes have been built throughout our region and certainly nobody was hurt, in fact, very few even knew they were being built and didn't care, so please let's not make a big issue of a very few miles of diking (if it is necessary) to save the Columbia Slough forever.
9832 Willamette Blvd.
Portland Oregon 97203