Community stakeholders are ecstatic about the outcome of the diver-assisted suction harvesting project in Clarks Creek.
After divers spent 36 days pulling the native elodea plant from the bed of the creek, Puyallup’s engineering staff reported Thursday that more than 14,000 linear feet had been managed and more than 5,000 cubic yards of elodea had been removed.
“The whole project is limited by manpower and hours worked,” said Joy Rodriguez, associate city engineer. “It’s very labor intensive and time consuming. The (Puyallup) Tribe has verbalized they are pleased, and we as the city are very pleased with the greater progress that we have seen with our contractor.”
Rodriguez said the Puyallup Tribe of Indians gave the city a one-week extension past the fish window, which runs June 15 through Aug. 1, to complete the work. That extended the contracted work through Aug. 8. The city was also approved to continue work through today, helping the contractor complete 100 percent of the project.
The DASH project was the top recommendation by the Clarks Creek Elodea Task Force to remove the evasive weed from the creek. DASH previously had been used in Thurston County on the Chehalis River, where it nearly eradicated elodea there.
DASH was performed in Clarks Creek by Northwest Remodel and Design and its subcontractor, Aqua Dive Service, LLC.
Divers worked eight-hour days in the water. The project scope benefited from decent weather with the exception of two days, when work was halted because of lightning.
“The contractor has had good support from the city’s fleet department for support in maintaining the DASH boats on the water,” Rodriguez said. “There has been very little down time.
“Based on similar projects that have used this approach, we anticipate having another DASH contract in 2014. However, we would expect the elodea presence or growth to be 50 percent or less based on the history of success in other counties.”
After next year, Rodriguez said the city anticipates repeating the process once every three to five years.
Rodriguez said the DASH method removes the entire plant.
“This reduces the plant’s ability to fragment and float downstream and replant in the creek bed, overall reducing the volume of elodea in Clarks Creek and potential for regrowth,” she said.
Another project identified by the Clarks Creek Elodea Task Force that would benefit the creek was removing boulders in the water under the Stewart Avenue and 56th East Street bridges.
“The rocks raised the elevation of the creek bottom, and some citizens feel the rocks were impeding the flow of the creek through those areas,” Rodriguez said.
Ann Coon, a member of the task force who is a lifetime Puyallup resident, has advocated for the rock removal for more than a decade.
“I have been going to watershed meetings and every government entity meeting over the past 12 years,” Coon said.
Coon watched the boulders as they were removed under the Stewart Avenue bridge, just feet from her home.
“It’s been absolutely amazing,” she said. “I didn’t think we could do it, but the people (the city) hired have been working their hearts out. I was concerned that the scope of the work was too overwhelming, but they’ve had some really hard-working men. To have everything come together as well as it has this year, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Patty Carter, one of Coon’s friends who also is an advocate for Clarks Creek, said the completed work is impressive.
“It was an amazing operation to watch in person under the bridge on Saturday,” Carter said. “With every boulder, some over 300 pounds, the water flowed faster. It was like watching a slow drain become cleared out.
“We can check this job off the Clarks Creek list,” she said. “It’s done.”Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.