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A Picture is Worth A Thousand Questions

Grays River Covered Bridge

That is the historic Grays River Covered Bridge, the only covered bridge in Washington that is still used by the public. Not sure the public was using it the day the photo was snapped, but mostly. This photo of the bridge is what it looks on drier days. Go look, it's really quite the difference.

The Grays River winds down a nearby valley, at least when it's not escaping its banks to wreak havoc in the area, even on places that are many feet higher than the river itself. The road to Astoria, where we shop, shadows the Grays River valley for a few miles and each trip finds me coveting one piece of waterfront or another. Then I remember. It floods. A lot.

Which flood is pictured here is a darned good question. We are under water quite a lot around here; getting 120 inches - yes, ten feet - of rain annually will do that to you. My memory is that there have been several such floods in the half dozen years since we moved here. Some locals claim that the 100 year floods are happening every 10 years now, others think it might be more often than that.

Even with the floods, I have a soft spot for the Grays River valley. We have friends who happen to live within sight of the bridge, on a bit of a rise so they stay a bit dryer than some others. Perhaps more relevant to me, this is where I broke my arm so horribly a while back. Maybe that soft spot is in my head...

So why do I have (somewhat fewer than 1000) questions about the place?

Two words: Septage dump.

Oh, I'm sorry: human biosolids land application site

Evergreen Septic, Inc. of Seaview is seeking a permit to spread treated septic sludge on about 80 acres of Philip Zerr's property, which borders the river about a quarter-mile from the historic Grays River Covered Bridge, a popular tourist attraction. The state Department of Ecology is expected to decide on a permit later this spring.

Prior to distribution, the sludge would be sifter through a 3/8" screen and lime would be added to help control odor. The septage is not tested for toxins, including things that seem to be showing up in our water more and more these days like pharmaceuticals, hormones, cocaine and cooking spices.This is on land that is used to graze cows and growing hay for sale. (btw, I have a question for you bakers: Puget Sound area has 14 milligrams of vanilla per liter.of water in sewage runoff. What's up with that?)

There is a hearing regarding the septage dump, er 'biosolids application site' on May 3rd (6pm, Rosburg Hall) to give residents an opportunity to share their concerns with the Department of Ecology.Since a lot of the safety here seems based on "site management and access restrictions" that seems like it is based on the land staying dry enough to keep the crap in place until it has a chance to perk down into...what, your water supply? (Some PUD wells look to be close to the site, too.)

Noyes told the Daily News that his single 5,000 gallon truck would make three trips per week on average. The permit states "up to five, 5,000 gallon tanker loads per day Monday through Friday year-round when conditions permit. Evergreen Septic doesn't usually apply on weekends but may occasionally apply on weekends."

Three tankers a week or five tankers a day. Seems like a shitload of a difference.

Look for more of my questions here shortly, as soon as I finish reading the Department of Ecology permit application. If you want to read along,I made a copy of the complete application available for download here: Evergreen Septic Receiving Yard and Land Application (It is a large file. To download it, right-click the link and select "Save as..." from menu)

In the meantime, however, I have a question for my local readers:

That is Zerr's house and the proposed septage dump site in the background, underwater behind the bridge, right?

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