How to Comment on the Kenai Peninsula Borough Gravel Pit Ordinance
Clean water is critically important for people and salmon, landscapes and communities. One way that we can ensure clean water and healthy salmon is to protect surface water (like streams […]
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Clean water is critically important for people and salmon, landscapes and communities. One way that we can ensure clean water and healthy salmon is to protect surface water (like streams and lakes) and groundwater (such as aquifers and underground water between rocks, sediment, and sand). Gravel pits – if not designed thoughtfully and developed carefully – can pose a serious risk to underground drinking water and aboveground salmon streams, especially baby salmon. 

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is working on an update to its material site ordinance (gravel pit rules; Ordinance 2022-36). This is a great opportunity to bring your perspective to the table and ensure that gravel, salmon and our clean water resources are all valued in the discussion. Comments can be emailed to the clerk at assemblyclerk@kpb.us by Monday, Dec 12th at 5pm. Or you may attend the next public hearing on Tuesday, Dec 13th in person or over zoom and provide testimony.

Main points:

  • Keep surface and groundwater provisions in the ordinance to protect our drinking water and salmon streams from pollution.
  • Keep the fairness provision in the ordinance that requires not only new pits but also Prior Existing Use (PEU) pits to file an application and reclamation plan before digging into surface or groundwater.
  • At the last hearing, hydrology experts recommended 1000ft buffers on all sides for drinking water, but the ordinance only requires a 500ft buffer on one side.

For a deep dive into the issue, watch these videos: KPB Planning Director Robert Ruffner’s overview presentation on Prior Existing Use (PEU) pits to the Materials Site Committee on Oct 11th and the Assembly’s discussion of proposed amendments at their last work session Nov 15th.

To learn more about the basics of groundwater in the Kenai lowlands and how it’s important for people and salmon, check out this StoryMap GPS: Groundwater, People, and Salmon. A look into the delicate balance of groundwater as a limited resource in relation to humans and salmon on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Lowlands.

“GPS: Groundwater, People, and Salmon” was created by Eric Kastelic of the University of South Florida School of Geosciences as an independent undergraduate research project under the supervision of Dr. Mark Rains and Dr. Kai Rains of the USF Ecohydrology Research Group. Animations were designed by Drs. Rains and created by Spencer Gordon.