The city of Soldotna has drafted a letter in response to the Kenai River Special Mangement Area board’s own letter to the state offering its opinion on turbidity issues on the Kenai river.
Mayor Nels Anderson addressed the letter to KRSMA board chairman Ted Wellman. In it, Anderson says it was unreasonable for the board to ask the city’s representative, Andrew Carmichael, to take a position or express an opinion on behalf of the city council without giving the council any time to look at the matter. A short timeline for KRSMA to respond to the Department of Environmental Conservation is why Wellman told the council earlier this month he sent the letter without getting much feedback. But Anderson notes a period of five days between when the council learned about KRSMA’s letter and the deadline for getting back to DEC. Wellman sent his letter two days before that council meeting, a full week ahead of the deadline.
Mayor Anderson also took issue with the fact that there was no vote from board members about the substance of the letter, just one public meeting and some brief discussion among the handful of people who actually knew about that meeting.
Finally, Anderson says, whether or not the city agrees with the KRSMA board that concerns about the river’s water quality don’t justify placing it on a list of impaired water bodies, is neither here nor there. The city should have had time to look at the science for itself and confer with a third party.
Anderson closes by asking Wellman to refrain from any future action without a more thorough consultation from local governments. That includes the city of Kenai, which sent a very similar letter through city manager Paul Ostrander last week.