Residents sue Army Corp of Engineers over river widening

Residents sue Army Corp of Engineers over river widening »Play Video
Flood level markings on Erick Haakenson's barn wall can be seen in this photo.
CARNATION, Wash. -- Some people who live near Carnation say they can't stop worrying about rain and the next monsoon.

The people who live around here say the Snoqualmie River is getting faster and faster because the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is handing out permits for river widening.

They say a wider river upstream is like a water gun aimed at them. They can't stop a river, but they're going to federal court to stop the widening. They filed a lawsuit against the Corps on Wednesday.

For many, Snoqualmie Falls is iconic figure, a tourist attraction, a power generator. But for area residents, it also generates fear.

"You've got to ask the question: what is the relationship between blasting away the side of Snoqualmie Falls so that water can escape more quickly, and this higher flooding that we experience 15 miles down below?" said Erick Haakenson of Jubilee Farms.

There's a reason Haakenson asks the question. It's the marks on the concrete wall of a barn. In 1990, it flooded for the first time in 51 years. But now it seems every year sets new records.

And Haakenson says all this followed river widening work in 2005

"We've already done one project that we think has had a lot of impact," he said. "Why in the world would we do another one just like it and possibly have much more impact, and we are the ones impacted?"

The river is being widened because of floods The Corps say widening the river will substantially drop river levels in Snoqualmie and towns above the falls, and only raise levels by an inch or so downstream.

But Fall city and Carnation folks say the corps is only guessing. They want a comprehensive study.

"This is kind of like we have to file a lawsuit to maybe have them do a study to at least know what they are doing before they do it," said Jeff Groshell.

Haakenson says there's another reason farmers are worried. Most farmers now farm organically, and new federal rules say if there is a flood that covers the plants, they can't be sold. That could make the next flood more than a disaster. It could be the end for some farmers.

The Corp said it had not had a chance to review the lawsuit, and refused to comment.