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Water table at Cabinet View Country Club should be considered

| January 25, 2007 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

The water table at the "New Nine" of Cabinet View Country Club is unlike any I had observed in 30 years as a professional forester, protecting and managing lands of five national forests in north Idaho and western Montana.

I believe that water will critically impact subsequent activities and development of the "New Nine," contiguous lands, and the slump and slide areas west of Reese Court and the Saverite South slide area.

While studying the slide areas in conjunction with project impact, I learned of the abnormal water presence in perk holes on the "New Nine." I made 147 measurements of water depths in those holes between 1998 and 2001. Water in those holes generally occurred from December to June, and coincided with sump pumping in Cabinet Heights' basements, and with ponds along the waterline road.

I provided copies of these readings to officials from Lincoln County, city of Libby, the golf course and Morrison-Maierle.

Surface water does not flow into or out of the holes, although they fill to the soil surface leaving little or no ice forming on top, even during freezing weather.

They are in glacial soil whose surface slopes from the ridges on the south and west of the "New Nine" down toward the city of Libby. At about 2,410 feet elevation, that soil is overlaid by the lake bed sediments with alternate layers of sand and silt.

Seepage from the sand layer is evident in the sand strata at the Flower Creek slumps and slides, and the head wall of the Saverite South slide. Residences built on the lake bed silts do no have the groundwater seepage problem of those built upon the glacial soils.

The surface soil and sand strata below Reese Court drains slightly north. The mega slides of 1972 and 1997 occurred south and west of the trailers of Reese Court, so it seems unlikely that sewage and lawn watering contributed much, if anything , to those mega slides.

Water form the trailers may contribute to the slumps along the Flower Creek face farther north. The large pond formed by snow melt near the Number Eight Fairway in 1997 infiltrated when frost left the soil. This happened about two weeks before the first mega slide.

I estimate the initial land clearing for the "New Nine" increased the annual water yield to that area by about 20-acre feet, with most infiltrating the water table during the sump pump operation time at Cabinet Heights.

Probably, that much more will become available from the recent fairway construction and anticipated residential land clearing and construction of roofs, roads and driveways. Cover changes on the "New Nine" make winter floods as in 1974 and 1976 from the "New Nine" likely. Most of that runoff - estimated at 15 to 20 per acre - would cross U.S. 2 just south of the museum.

The perk hole water indicates that at least half of the residential lots proposed for the "New Nine" are in-ground water problem areas. Intermittent streams that associate with the groundwater cross several proposed lots.

It is not too late to consider the slides and slumps, the glacial soil ground water and winter storm runoff as an entity for managing the "New Nine" water table and runoff.

It must be done in conjunction with sewer line design and construction for the area to avoid further compounding the problem.

Bert Ward