Rivers Cause Erosion Concern Near Sutton

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Rain swollen waters of the Matanuska River have caused serious erosion in some areas near Sutton, carving out three feet of riverbank a day and threatening properties, according to Matanuska Susitna Borough media contacts.  The river is also chewing up a rock embankment constructed some years ago in the Butte area.  Borough workers are monitoring both situations. Frankie Barker is an planner with the Borough.

She says so far one home has been damaged severely.

About 20 threatened properties are in Sutton, sandwiched between the Glenn Highway and the river. The glacial river is loaded with sediment that scours riverbanks and carves new channels.  An especially wet July has added to the river’s potential for destruction.  The braided river has a wide bed, and the river itself travels from one side of the riverbed to the other from year to year.  The Borough and the US Geological Survey have teamed up on a mapping study to identify the erosion risk areas of the Matanuska River.  The Matanuska is a state river.  Rigorous state and federal permit processes are required to build in it, so the Borough faces additional challenges in dealing with erosion.

The Borough’s Matanuska River Management Plan comes up before the Assembly later this month.  The plan contains a request for more money for erosion projects.  Currently, the Borough has some funds to buy at risk properties.

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