Concerns Increase over Cowlitz Casino’s Water Injection System

          A letter of concern written by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has brought to the foreground the worries that have been generated among citizens regarding the proposed use of a water injection system to deal with wastewater generated by the Cowlitz Casino.

          As clarified in a letter written by Doug Ballou, the President of the Neighborhood Associations Council of Clark County, most of the 180,000 citizens represented by the 29 neighborhood associations in NACCC (including the North Salmon Creek Neighborhood Association) “get their drinking water from private or public wells that draw water from the ground sources, primarily the Troutdale Aquifer.”

          Mr. Ballou continues: “Citizens need to be informed about the injection plan and what measures will be taken to assure that sources of drinking water are not put at risk of contamination.” The letter continues by calling for a series of public meetings in order for citizens to express their concerns and ask their questions.

          According to information recently released, the Cowlitz Tribe casino, which is scheduled to open in 2017, could inject about 400,000 gallons a day into the ground. “The vadose injection well system would pump the wastewater into the soil roughly 120 feet to 220 feet above the Troutdale Aquifer System, which supplies 99 percent of Clark Country’s drinking water.” The question arises regarding the availability of La Center’s sewer system. The Cowlitz Casino property is “well outside” the urban growth boundary, which translates into a very expensive and extended legal process in gaining access to the La Center’s existing system.

          The North Salmon Creek Neighborhood Association has written a letter to Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington DC, 20460 (Office of the Administrator 1101A, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.), in support of the stand the Neighborhood Associations Council of Clark County. Specifically, this expresses concern over the Cowlitz Tribe’s proposed plan to use deep water injection to dispose of waste water produced by the Casino, calls for full environmental assessments prior to permitting, opportunity for public comment and implementation of monitoring systems that track and controls potential impacts on publicly-used water.

          Any input from local citizens is appreciated. Letters can be addressed to Gina McCarthy (at the address above).

          Ed Note: The above article was written and submitted by Ann Foster, North Salmon Creek NA Board member and liaison to the NACCC.

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