County OKs plan to ease high water level at Lake Serene

Majority of homeowners around lake favor plan in survey
By Nicholas Johnson | Apr 05, 2017

A long-term plan to ease high water levels on Lake Serene won unanimous approval from the Snohomish County Council on March 29.

The project, which is estimated to cost $800,000 in all, aims to improve drainage flow and decrease the level of the lake by modifying an emergency bypass pipe installed March 10.

Since then, approximately 14.5 million gallons of water have drained out of the lake. This has lowered the lake level by 10.6 inches from the Feb. 17 high-water mark, despite 7.3 inches of rain since that date.

“This has been a unique challenge for the county and lakeside community to work through,” Councilmember Stephanie Wright said. “I look forward to the completion of the project, which will provide more stability and predictable water levels during future rainfall.”

Lake Serene is located in unincorporated Snohomish County, west of Highway 99 between Mukilteo and Lynnwood. For years, residents around the lake have experienced flooding during winter months or during periods of heavy rainfall.

In February, the county surveyed lakeside property owners about potential solutions. Over 70 percent of the 95 homeowners around the lake responded, and results showed that 67 percent of respondents favored a cost-share solution.

As part of the approved legislation, the surface water utility rates for lakeside property owners will be temporarily increased by $197 per year. The surcharge will end after ten years and will pay for the private portions of the project, while rates charged in the Urban Growth Areas will be used to fund the public portions of the project.

Lakeside residents will cover about 22 percent of the project since they will receive a special benefit that the rest of the watershed will not receive.

Final design, permitting and drainage easement acquisitions are expected to be completed this year, and construction is tentatively set for the summer of 2018. Based on requests from the council and the public, the county is looking for ways to accelerate the project.

“We are proud of how quickly the Snohomish County Public Works team was able to design and build the emergency bypass, lessening the threat of significant damage to public assets,” County Executive Dave Somers said.

“The new solution approved today will work better than the original system. Winter high levels will be a bit lower than with the old system, without the constant threat of flooding. That’s a sensible solution to the problem.”

On Feb. 13, Somers authorized an emergency action to begin building an emergency outflow pipe to prevent water from flooding county roads. The county immediately started to design and construct the emergency outflow pipe, which bypasses an existing failing outflow pipe on private property.

The new emergency bypass pipe system protects public infrastructure. The bypass also provides some relief to properties when the lake reaches high water levels, but the emergency bypass does not moderate the flows to the levels requested by many of the lakeside property owners.

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