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Runoff at golf course might need treatment

Additional runoff drainage into this portion of Deer Lagoon may depend on water quality and the willingness of the Useless Bay Golf Course and Country Club to treat it. - Matt Johnson
Additional runoff drainage into this portion of Deer Lagoon may depend on water quality and the willingness of the Useless Bay Golf Course and Country Club to treat it.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

New drainage pipes laid into a Deer Lagoon backwater during the past three months are at the middle of an impasse over how a golf course and the homes around them will fend off winter and spring rains.

The pipes, installed by the Useless Bay Golf Course and Country Club at the bottom of Sound View Drive this past summer, drew a stop work order and an enforcement order from Island County. At issue is the unpermitted grading and clearing near a wetland, and the attempted expansion of a drainage system without appropriate review.

According to Island County Planning Director Phil Bakke, the enforcement order was issued when planning officials discovered that the country club had replaced an old, 8-inch drainage pipe and added a second pipe for greater capacity. While most of the damage done during clearing operations was to Himalayan blackberries -- a noxious weed Island County wants eliminated where possible -- Bakke said his department could not permit the added drainage capacity without the project undergoing environmental review. His department allowed work to finish up on the replacement drain line, but ordered that the new one be capped at both ends.

Byron Vadset, president of the country club, said the enforcement order came about due to a misunderstanding. He said the club had worked with the county's public works department on the drainage project, but failed to clear it the planning department.

The two lines were installed to increase drainage capacity for the Useless Bay Golf Course and the neighborhoods surrounding it. After drain pipes near Sunlight Beach were silted in two years ago, affecting drainage in the Useless Bay area, the club began looking for other options, Vadset said. The new pipes were built to provide drainage in a basin that covers the Useless Bay and Bayview areas.

Vadset said he is confident that the club and the county can work together to get the drainage project up and running.

"Right now, I think we're close to coming up with something that works for everybody," he said.

That something will probably involve environmental reviews by the state and Island County. Bill Oakes, the director of the county's public works department, said it has yet to be determined if the water the club proposes to drain into the Deer Lake wetland will need to be treated. He noted that the water quality may be affected by chemicals used at the golf course. The state departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife will make an issue of water quality, he said.

If the project is permitted, Oakes said he believes it will prevent future flooding in the Sunlight Beach area.

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