Puyallup: News

Elodea removal proves to be headache for homeowners, city

Georga Prossick shows the flooding in neighbor’s backyards in Puyallup. Clark’s Creek, which normally flows behind the trees planted in Prossick’s yard, started to flood yards in the neighborhood in April.
Georga Prossick shows the flooding in neighbor’s backyards in Puyallup. Clark’s Creek, which normally flows behind the trees planted in Prossick’s yard, started to flood yards in the neighborhood in April. jbessex@gateline.com

For neighbors living along Clarks Creek in Puyallup, many are growing frustrated at the annual rise of the creek’s water.

An elodea infestation along the 3.2-mile-long creek causes flooding of their yards and properties.

Georga Prossick has lived along the creek for 17 years. Every April, she says the water level begins to rise.

“You used to be able to jump across it,” she said.

The creek goes well up past the bank and onto Prossick’s lawn. Because of the high water, her lawn is now littered with duck poop, ducks and beavers — all making use of the high water, she says.

Elodea restricts flow of the creek, forcing the creek up onto property owners’ lawns.

The native elodea is in what City Engineer Mark Palmer calls “super abundance.”

So much so that for the last five years, the city has contracted with AquaDive to suction up the rootballs of the weed. The city has created barges with long hoses that suck up the weeds into onion bags, and later into giant agriculture bags. Since starting the removal process on June 3, divers have removed 1,740 bags of elodea.

Homeowners are growing frustrated at the lack of progress of removing elodea, as each year the waters continue to rise.

We’re at the end of our five-year permit, and the elodea isn’t gone yet. We’re thinking it’s a layer cake scenario, that elodea is under multiple layers of sediment in the creek.

Mark Palmer, city engineer

“We’re at the end of our five-year permit, and the elodea isn’t gone yet,” Palmer said. “We’re thinking it’s a layer cake scenario, that elodea is under multiple layers of sediment in the creek.”

The city is sharing the cost of elodea removal with a 50-percent split with Pierce County.

Palmer says Clarks Creek is the perfect breeding ground for elodea: direct sun exposure and plenty of sediment and nutrients in the water. The weeds sprout up every April. However, with the creek being home to salmon, the city can only remove the elodea from June 1 to Aug. 1.

After the weeds are sucked up and removed from the water, the water almost instantly recedes, like pulling the plug in a bathtub.

Palmer and the city have also asked residents along the creek to help reduce the things elodea thrives off of.

“We want to take two legs out of the stool,” Palmer said. “If we can plant trees along the creek to help with shading, it helps keep the water temperature cool.”

The city has kept residents updated at their daily totals of elodea removals here: cityofpuyallup.org/services/public-works/stormwater-management/projects/clarks-creek-elodea-removal/.

Heather DeRosa: 253-256-7043, @herald_hderosa

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