The Borough's waterways dynamically shape the character of the land and the livelihoods and lifestyles of residents throughout the Borough. The quality of the Borough's ground waters, surface waters, and marine waters is vital to the region's economy and the local quality of life.
Water quality in the Borough varies markedly. Most communities in the Borough currently have adequate water quality to support domestic and industrial needs. However, natural water quality in some areas is less than ideal. Many rivers carry high sediment loads, and ground water in some areas is highly mineralized. In addition, human activities have caused a number of local occurrences of water degradation or contamination.
The marine and fresh water ecosystems of the Borough support a rich abundance of fish and wildlife, which in turn support lucrative fishing, recreation, and tourism industries. Communities that rely on surface water for domestic and industrial uses may face future competition with in-stream flow reservations and water quality requirements needed to sustain fish and wildlife.
The Borough has already initiated or participated in several planning efforts to manage and protect its water resources. These actions include planning and administration of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Coastal Management Program, under the guidelines of the Alaska Coastal Management Program; wetland mapping in several areas; Borough establishment of the Kasilof River Advisory Board; Borough participation in development of the state‑approved Kenai River Special Management Area Plan; and Borough representation on the Kenai Peninsula Ground Water Task Force.
Fresh Water Resources
Geology and topography determine the movement and availability of ground water. Areas with shallow bedrock usually have low ground water potential and require wells to be drilled deep to penetrate water‑saturated fracture zones. Unconsolidated deposits or coarse-grained fractured sandstone and conglomerates offer the best ground water potential.
Surface water quality is important to sustaining the vitality of several sectors of the economy, as well as the ecosystems of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. The surface waters of the Borough serve as sources of: domestic and industrial water supply, hydropower, recreation, and scenic attraction. Waterways also serve as transportation corridors. Their most prominent commercial function is sustenance of rich salmon fisheries, which involve thousands of residents and visitors in sport and commercial fishing.
Although the Borough has large areas of wetlands, the locations and relative ecological values of these wetlands have not been sufficiently catalogued for detailed resource planning. Wetlands often provide storage and filtering functions for surface water, groundwater recharge, and fish and wildlife habitat.
Northern Peninsula ‑ Ground water supplies virtually all of the domestic and industrial water used in the central Kenai Peninsula Borough. The City of Kenai, the City of Soldotna, and several North Kenai/Nikiski industrial users draw large amounts of ground water.
The major surface streams in the northern Borough are, in order of decreasing average annual runoff: Kenai River, Kasilof River, Swanson River, Bishop Creek, and Beaver Creek. The Kenai River and Kasilof River provide spawning and rearing habitat for especially lucrative runs of king and sockeye salmon. Large glacier‑fed streams such as the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers have sediment loads and high flows throughout the summer months. Non‑glacial streams have only moderate flows in late summer and fall. The northern Borough's myriad lakes and wetlands are productive habitat for fish, wildlife, waterfowl, and shorebirds.
Southern Peninsula ‑ Ground water yields in the southern Kenai Peninsula are generally low, rarely exceeding 50 gallons per minute (gpm). For comparison, a water yield of 100 gpm is adequate to serve approximately 1,000 people, based on the national average demand of 75 gallons per capita per day and 12‑hour per day pump operation. Particularly low yield areas are:
Ninilchik to Anchor Point, 10 to 150 gpm; the areas north and east of Homer, 10 to 50 gpm; and the communities on the south side of Kachemak Bay. Seldovia, English Bay, and Port Graham rely primarily on surface water for community and industrial water supply. Surface bedrock on steep slopes, saltwater intrusion, and a high water table in some low‑lying areas generally preclude development of ground water supplies.
Surface waters are important sources of community and industrial water on the southern Kenai Peninsula where ground water supplies are limited. The largest surface freshwater sources in the southern Kenai Peninsula are the Ninilchik and Anchor Rivers and Deep Creek. A dam on Bridge Creek, a tributary of the Anchor River, impounds water for Homer's municipal water supply. The City owns a buffer strip around the reservoir, but the remainder of the watershed is privately owned. Tustumena Lake, extending 28 miles from the edge of the Harding Icefield, is the Borough's largest lake.
In Seldovia, the community water supply comes from the gravity‑fed Lagoon Creek Reservoir and from Fish Creek. Fish Creek is susceptible to pollution from upslope development and septic tank leakage. The English Bay and Port Graham community water systems and Port Graham fish processing facility also depend on surface water from small streams near the communities. The Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Facility on the south shore of Kachemak Bay is expected to come on line in 1991.
Eastern Peninsula ‑ In the eastern Borough, all of the unincorporated communities rely on private wells, which typically have low yields. In Seward, steep bedrock slopes and the hydraulic properties of the deeper fractured bedrock limit the potential for ground water. The largest ground water resources, found in the unconsolidated deposits at the head of Resurrection Bay, are recharged from streamflow losses, and from rainfall and snowmelt infiltration in the upper part of the Resurrection River Valley. The public water supply in Seward draws ground water from six scattered wells and surface water from Marathon Springs. Outside the city service area, residents rely on domestic wells.
The Resurrection River, which originates in the glaciers and icefields of the Kenai Mountains, is the major surface water drainage system of the Seward area. other significant streams are Lowell Creek, which forms the alluvial fan on which Seward was founded, and Jap Creek, which has formed a similar alluvial fan at the edge of the Resurrection River floodplain. Glacier‑fed Kenai Lake, renowned for its green‑blue coloration, is an important recreation center with good road access and numerous cabins, campgrounds, and lodges along its shores.
West Side of Cook Inlet ‑ Detailed ground water data is not available for the west side of Cook Inlet. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates groundwater yields near the western coast of Cook Inlet to be 10 to 100 gallons per minute (USGS, 1976). Currently, the west side's only well with industrial output is located at the Chugach Electric Power Plant at Beluga. The mouths of the McArthur and Chakachatna Rivers and other major streams have the potential for moderate ground water yields from alluvial deposits. Soil and bedrock conditions and high iron content limit ground water potential in the rest of this region. Tyonek has developed a surface water collection and treatment system for domestic needs.
There are a number of major drainage systems located on the west side of Cook Inlet. Major watersheds include the Beluga, Chuitna, Nikolai, Chakachatna, McArthur, Tuxedni, and Pile Rivers. Along with these major watersheds, a number of smaller streams and creeks drain the region.
Ground Water Quality Assessment
Water from the water table aquifers is generally low in dissolved solids but high in iron. High levels of mineralization (primarily iron and hydrogen sulfide) cause staining and bad tastes from well water in some areas. Artesian aquifers that range in depth from 60 to 300 feet below the land surface typically exhibit the highest quality ground water. Salt water intrusion limits the availability of ground water on the Homer Spit and other low‑lying coastal areas.
Residential and Domestic Pollution
Septic tanks have caused water quality problems in a number of high density residential areas where lot size and drainage are not adequate for on‑site sewage disposal and public sewers are not yet available. Conditions which create sewage disposal problems include: shallow bedrock, high water table, impermeable or shallow soils, and the presence of wetlands, especially where these conditions occur on small lots. Public landfills and waste disposal facilities are also potential sources of water pollutants. The Borough regularly monitors water quality near its active and deactivated landfills in accordance with ADEC permit requirements.
Commercial and Industrial Pollution
Contaminants associated with petrochemical production, refining, and storage have been discovered in isolated areas throughout the Borough. Ground water contamination has occurred from improper disposal, storage or handling of petrochemical products. Soils, ground water, wells, and community water supplies in some areas have been contaminated with:
0 process chemicals from small commercial enterprises and benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylenes from leaking underground tanks;
0 hydrocarbons, nitrate, arsenic, ammonia, and urea from
underground spills from large petrochemical plants;
0 PCBs from a former oil storage site; and
0 various contaminants from inadequate disposal of hazardous wastes.
Impacts of Development on the Water Table
There is concern that industrial pumping of ground water in the Nikiski area has lowered water levels in adjacent lakes and aquifers. Gordon Nelson, author of Hydrology and the Effects of Industrial Pumping in the Nikiski Area. Alaska, (USGS, 1987) reports that, "Although the levels of the water table and some lakes are somewhat depressed by pumping, water levels will not continue to decline unless pumping increases. The fluctuation in lake levels that people have seen in the last six (6) years is primarily related to annual changes in precipitation."
Monitoring and Cleanup Programs
The Kenai Peninsula Ground Water Task Force was formed in late 1989 "to improve the knowledge, understanding, protection, and cleanup of the ground water resources of the Kenai Peninsula". The Task Force consists of seven local citizens, and representatives
of seven government agencies, eight industrial companies, and four environmental or special interest groups. Jointly funded by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Geological, and Geophysical Surveys (ADNR/DGGS), Alaska Department of
Environmental Conservation, Division of Environmental Quality, and industry, the Task Force has undertaken a thorough hydrogeologic study of the central Kenai Peninsula, to be developed in four phases:
Phase I Map and evaluate existing USGS data. Completed in 1990.
Phase II Compile and collect additional data and evaluate regional ground water flow system. Estimated completion date 1993.
Phase III Collect additional data and evaluate subregional ground water flow systems. Estimated completion date 1996.
Phase IV Long‑term monitoring and ground water protection activities (on‑going).
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) has targeted several ground water contamination sites for field investigation and cleanup under the Kenai Cleanup Project
Surface Water Quality Assessment
In general, surface water quality is good, with the exception of localized areas or seasonal periods where high concentrations of iron, silica, copper, turbidity, and dissolved organic material may be present. Most of the surface water in the study area is of the calcium magnesium bicarbonate type and is generally low in dissolved solids, chloride, and hardness. Most surface waters meet all known drinking water standards except those for iron and turbidity. The concentrations of silica, dissolved solids, iron, and the hardness are generally less in the Kenai River than in the small non‑glacial streams, but the Kenai River contains considerable glacial flour.
Some residents have expressed concern that discharge of fish wastes at the mouths of the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers may be creating local waste concentrations. There is limited water quality data available to assess these waste concentrations. However, Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and ADEC have baseline water quality studies underway on the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, respectively. The studies involve monthly or biweekly water sampling at points from the headwaters to the river mouths; a range of laboratory and field tests; and in the Kenai River, benthic sampling. The Kenai River study will continue from October 1989 to October 1991; while the Kasilof River Study began in June 1990 and has not been funded to continue.
Deep fjords characterize Resurrection Bay and much of the outer coast of the Borough. Water depths increase to over 100 feet within a few hundred feet of shore in most places. On‑shore wave action can be extreme during winter storms. In Cook Inlet, the bottom topography is extremely rugged, with numerous shoals and a shallow near‑shore depth (less than 60 feet for 2 to 3 miles offshore) along the lower Kenai Peninsula. Cook Inlet experiences a high range of tides and a high degree of flushing. Cross currents are common and water is turbulent throughout the water column.
Glacial streams discharge large amounts of sediment into Cook Inlet. Sediment loads vary from greater than 1,700 milligrams per liter (mg/1) near Anchorage to less than 2 mg/l at the mouth of Cook Inlet. Longshore transport of sediment within Cook Inlet is generally up the Inlet, although in Kamishak, Tuxedni, and Kachemak Bays this trend is reversed.
Most coastal areas have large tide fluctuations (high volumes of water exchanged and moderate to strong currents) and consequently, frequent flushing. The flushing action rapidly dilutes and disperses wastes discharged into marine waters, diminishing the possibility of impact to habitat, sea life populations, or human health. These same conditions create difficult containment challenges in cases of sudden pollutant discharges or spills.
The limited flushing action in enclosed waters such as lagoons and small boat harbors creates potential for water degradation from uncontrolled waste and wastewater disposal. Isolated bays in Cook Inlet with gyres (currents that flow back and forth) also may entrap wastes and contaminants.
Residential and Domestic Pollution
Most of the Borough's sewer systems discharge their sewage to marine waters under National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit conditions (Seward, Kenai, Homer, Seldovia, English Bay, Port Graham, and Tyonek). Homer recently completed an extension of its outfall past the intertidal zone; and Seldovia has completed repairs to a leaking outfall.
Most non‑point source pollution occurs from discharge of sewage, solid refuse, and oily wastes from boats. Pollutants from these sources tend to disperse but can create adverse impacts at points of concentration, such as on depositional beaches or in the enclosed waters of harbors or coves.
Commercial and Industrial Pollution and Pollution Control
The Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound in March 1989 caused short‑term lethal conditions for some species of marine and shore life in the Gulf coast and lower Cook Inlet area. The long-term effects on fish and wildlife are unknown. Two seasons of cleanup of this spill, in addition to over a year and a half of wind and wave action, have removed much of the surface oil from the shoreline.
ADEC has an oil and hazardous materials spill tracking system organized for coastal zone areas. ADEC has recorded approximately 500 spills of toxic and hazardous substances throughout the Borough in the first nine months of 1990. This includes small spills of less than a gallon.
Plastics and some solid refuse from vessels at sea must now be disposed of onshore under new federal regulations (MARPOL, Annex V). Recent ADEC surveys of outer coastal areas show a 25 to 30 percent decrease in the primary components of litter washed ashore, nets, lines, and fishing debris (National Fisherman, September 1990).
Seafood processing plants discharge high volumes of fish processing wastewater, including ground fish waste, and salt, to coastal waters, as well as to the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers. Although there are no conclusive studies on the impacts of seafood processing effluents, some residents have expressed concern that the effluents may increase biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and cause chemical conditions adverse to marine life in the receiving waters.
Some types of wastewater from vessels, docking facilities, and oil platforms contain toxic substances. Bilge water from vessels and ballast water from treatment facilities at oil loading docks often cause oily residues when discharged to marine waters.
The industrial plants in Nikiski discharge large volumes of effluent into Cook Inlet, which contain toxic wastes. Environmental groups have expressed concern that refineries have failed to meet EPA permit requirements for their effluent in numerous categories: pH, sulfide, BOD, chemical oxygen demand, phenols, oil and grease, total suspended solids, and ammonia. EPA acknowledged in a 1987 report that dilution in Cook Inlet was insufficient to adequately dilute industrial effluent. EPA noted that some of this effluent "is likely to affect survival, growth, and reproduction of aquatic marine organisms." Also, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has notified EPA that some effluents violate several toxicity parameters for aquatic life. Industrial operators have completed discharge improvements in the past few years to meet requirements of an NPDES general permit for oil and gas platforms in Cook Inlet and three shore facilities.
Industrial operators monitor drilling fluid discharge and submit records to regulatory agencies monthly. If the fluids temporarily do not meet NPDES permit parameters, the operators de‑water them and ship them outside for final disposal.
Recent industry pollution control efforts include: secondary research on aquatic organisms north and south of the Forelands, submitted to EPA with comments on effluent guidelines; and a pending study for EPA by Cook Inlet industrial operators, titled "Aquatic Risk Assessment f or Aquatic Discharge", to be completed by early 1991.
The cumulative and long‑term impacts of industrial discharge to Cook Inlet are unknown. There have been few studies to determine the extent of the contamination in the sediments and waters of Cook Inlet in the last decade.
EXISTING REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
The Borough has no ordinances specifically concerning water quality. However, the Borough Subdivision Ordinance (Chapter 20. includes standards to require a minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet in areas with on‑site water and sewer to protect water quality. The Floodplain Management Ordinance (Chapter 21.06) also includes sections to regulate water and wastewater systems constructed in the floodplain, to avoid water contamination during flood conditions.
The Borough recently received federal and state approval of its Coastal Management Program (CMP), which was drafted under the direction of the Alaska Coastal Management Program (AS 46.40.010 et.seq.). The CMP includes an inventory of water resources and water quality and a statement of issues, goals, and policies including: watershed protection, ground water pollution, discharge of effluent to coastal waters, and storage of pollutants. The CMP relies primarily on state and federal authority to carry out its objectives. Although the Borough relies on state and federal permit procedures, the Borough has authority to comment upon and influence state and federal permitting decisions.
Ambient Water Quality
The reigning federal law on water quality is the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act) of 1972, as amended in 1977. The Clean Water Act establishes maximum levels of specified pollutants for ambient water for various specified uses: drinking water supply, recreation, fish and wildlife, and agricultural and industrial use (33 USC 1251 et. seq.). The Act also lists effluent guidelines for pretreating and discharging over 65 toxic pollutants and establishes oil and hazardous substance reporting procedures, cleanup provisions, and liability. EPA's recently promulgated Surface Water Treatment Rule (SWTR) (effective June 29, 1989) prescribes minimum levels of treatment for all public community and noncommunity water systems that use surface sources or ground water under the direct influence of surface water. This rule is intended to safeguard consumers from potential exposure to Giardia, other protozoa, pathogenic bacteria, and viruses. The administrative responsibility for compliance with the SWTR is still undetermined. ADEC has indicated that it lacks the personnel or financial resources to administer it, raising the possibility of EPA oversight.
The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, as amended in 1986, establishes maximum contaminant levels for 83 contaminants, and requires filtration, disinfection, and specific treatment techniques for drinking water (42 USC 300, et. seq.). The Safe Drinking Water Act establishes wellhead protection programs and an underground injection control (UIC) program. The Alaska Oil and Gas Commission monitors the mechanical integrity of the two permitted underground injection wells in the Kenai oil fields at least once every five years, in accordance with EPA regulations.
Pollution Discharge to Waterbodies
Federal laws regulate discharges to ground and surface waters primarily by means of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). The federal Clean Water Act requires that wastewater be treated using the "best available technology" prior to discharge to surface waters. In addition, wastewater cannot cause the in-stream water quality to be degraded to the point where it interferes with any existing or potential uses of the water (drinking water, fish and wildlife propagation, etc.).
Solid Waste Generated at Sea
Recent regulation to prohibit refuse dumping at sea (MARPOL Annex V, effective December 31, 1988) will affect the ports and docking facilities in the Borough. MARPOL Annex V prohibits the at‑sea disposal of all plastic materials; and the disposal of most other garbage within three miles of shore. (Vessels may dispose of some types of finely‑ground refuse and non‑ground refuse farther offshore). MARPOL Annex V requires all ports, terminals, marinas, fish plants and buying stations, fuel docks, and all other revenue generating docking areas to provide "adequate refuse reception facilities" so mariners can conveniently dispose of their retained refuse.
Dredging and Filling Activities
Permits are required for the dredging or placement of fill in wetlands or other waters of the United States under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The COE administers the permitting process and makes a final decision to approve or deny a permit based on comment received from federal agencies (EPA, USFWS, and the National Marine Fisheries Service), state agencies (ADEC, ADF&G, and ADNR, as coordinated by the Division of Governmental Coordination, DGC), local agencies, and interested individuals.
ADEC has primary State responsibility for enforcing regulations for the prevention and abatement of water pollution. ADEC establishes water quality standards that classify the waters of the state according to quality and purity. ADEC has also set minimum quality standards for specific uses.
Ambient Water Quality
Waters, which in their natural condition are of higher quality than the standards, must be maintained at the existing quality, unless a permit is approved by ADEC, through the permit process, to allow discharge up to the standards. Waters of the state are divided into two main classes: fresh and marine. Within these classes, the three most important uses are: water supply; water recreation; and the growth and propagation of fish, shellfish, other aquatic life, and wildlife (18 AAC 70.020(a)). Each protected water use has specific water quality criteria defined for: total coliform bacteria; dissolved gas; pH; turbidity; temperature; metals; sediment; organics; petroleum hydrocarbons, oils, and grease; radioactivity; total residual chlorine; and conductivity.
ADEC must review and approve engineering plans and designs for all water supply systems serving over 25 people, and wastewater systems that discharge to waters of the state (AS 46.03.020(10)(c) and 46.03.090‑120). Several wastewater disposal regulations affect rural residential development. Septic tanks or sewer lines must have a minimum horizontal separation distance from drinking water systems and a vertical separation distance between the lowest part of a soil absorption system and the seasonal high water table (18 AAC 72.026 and 80.020 (e)). This requirement may affect the developability of small lots. Other wastewater disposal requirements include: minimum effluent treatment levels, sewage sludge disposal requirements, requirements for wastewater system and subdivision plan reviews, and wastewater discharge permitting. A minimum lot size of 40,000 square feet is required for subdivision lots with on‑site water and sewer unless an engineering report is submitted to certify the suitability of the lots for septage disposal.
Coastal Water Quality
Under the Alaska Coastal Management Program, DGC coordinates multiple‑agency review of permit applications for development within the coastal zone. The Borough has the opportunity to comment on whether or not proposed developments are consistent with the Borough Coastal Management Program's goals for water quality and other resources.
Alterations to Waterbodies
ADNR is charged with administration of water rights and alterations to surface water areas or bodies. ADNR holds permitting powers for: alteration of water courses or lakes; any use of water from these sources that involves alterations, appropriations, or offsite use; and construction of works to appropriate either ground or surface waters. ADF&G may place preventative and mitigative requirements on water‑related projects to protect the habitat and wildlife resources of the state within state‑owned waters.
Other state regulations affecting water quality have been covered in‑depth in other parts of this Comprehensive Plan. These state regulations include: oil pollution control (18 AAC 75); operation of the underground storage tank program under direction from EPA; solid waste management (18 AAC 60); hazardous waste management (18 AAC 62 and 63); operation of the EPA CERCLA (Superfund) program; and pesticide control (18 AAC 90).
Several planning efforts have focused on the special management needs of highly valuable and highly sensitive water resources, such as the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers and several coastal areas.
The Kenai River Special Management Area (SMA) Plan, adopted by ADNR in November 1986, creates state management policies for the Kenai River bed, water column, and all adjoining state park lands, from the Warren Aimes Bridge upstream to the river's headwaters. The State actively enforces the policies of the Kenai River SMA on state waters and state lands.
The Kenai River SMA further recommended a protection area incorporating all steep eroding banks, floodplains, wetlands, and riparian habitat; and a conservancy district extending 350 feet outward from the protection area. The State has advisory policies for development activity in these zones. However, neither the State nor the Borough has adopted enforcement measures to support the State's advisory policies on non‑state lands in the SMA. Instead, the Borough adopted general goals for Kenai River water quality, fisheries, and recreation in 1987.
The Borough has been cooperating with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service, ADF&G, the ADNR Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, and other resource agencies to map and prepare a geographic information system (GIS) database for soils along with the Kenai River. Initial mapping is scheduled for completion in 1991.
The Borough‑appointed Kasilof River Advisory Board is currently reviewing a 1989 draft plan for the Kasilof River Area Meriting Special Attention (AMSA). A final draft AMSA Plan is expected in 1991. The AMSA Plan for English Bay and Port Graham received approval from both communities and the Borough Planning Commission in mid‑1990, with Borough Assembly approval expected in late 1990. The City of Seward has expressed interest in developing an AMSA Plan for the head of Resurrection Bay.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has mapped all wetlands within the Borough as part of the National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) project. These maps provide information on general wetlands biological regimes, at a one‑inch=one‑mile scale. They do not indicate parcels less than three acres in size and do not assign values to the wetlands for use in determining which should be preserved or developed.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) produced draft maps of wetlands along the Kenai River in 1987. Because the COE lacks funding to refine the maps, the COE uses them only on a limited, in‑house basis. Consequently, development along the Kenai River has continued without specific knowledge of wetland types and their values. The Borough has assisted the City of Homer in managing wetlands within the City by providing funding for wetland mapping and assisting in development of a classification system. The mapping assisted the City of Homer to qualify for a general permit from the COE, giving the City local permitting authority for some wetlands development.
With small urban centers and a scattered industrial base, the Kenai Peninsula Borough, for the most part, has high air quality. All areas within the Borough meet or exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act of 1970. However, some citizens have expressed concern about the effects of air emissions from major industrial facilities on human health, vegetation and soils, and water quality.
Industrial Air Pollution and Pollution Control
Concern over Borough air quality has centered around major industrial facilities. The three petrochemical facilities located in Nikiski annually emit thousands of tons of pollutants into the air. Some of the constituents of these emissions that are regulated under the federal Clean Air Act (1970) include: nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate, sulfur oxides, and lead.
Ammonia emissions and other potentially hazardous emissions, such as chlorine and formaldehyde, are not regulated under the Clean Air Act. Approximately 17 to 20 tons of industrial‑generated ammonia are released to the air on the Kenai Peninsula everyday. Studies have shown that large doses of ammonia cause eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation; and lower resistance to respiratory diseases. ADEC is developing regulations to control ammonia emissions from industrial sources.
Another source of air emissions is the incineration of contaminated soils containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) and hydrocarbons. Also, several industrial plants use flares to dispose of waste oil and ethylene. However, the emissions from these processes currently meet state and federal regulations.
Dust is a common air pollutant produced naturally and artificially. Dust becomes airborne artificially through operation of gravel pits and other industrial sites, from graded areas and roads during dry, windy periods, and from traffic on the hundreds of miles of unpaved roads in the Borough. Coal dust from coal loading facilities is an air quality concern for some area residents.
Several industrial operators have installed advanced technology to reduce air emissions over the past five years. Improvements include a sulfur recovery unit, modified oil heater system, and a gas compressor to recycle gas and reduce the need for flaring. A seafood processor has installed odor control measures. A port transfer facility has implemented dust control measures.
Natural Sources of Air Pollution
Except near a few industrial point sources of air pollution, the most widely‑noticed air pollution in the Borough has resulted from natural phenomena: volcanic emissions of ash and sulfuric gases; and smoke from forest fires. These naturally‑occurring emissions occasionally create health hazards for people with vulnerable respiratory systems, such as asthma sufferers, young children, and the elderly. In addition, these sources can disrupt communication and commerce by interfering with signal transmissions, and by forcing the grounding of flights and the shut‑down of sensitive machinery including computers and generators.
In most of the rural district, air pollution emanates from non‑point sources (such as vehicle traffic and household wood stoves) and disperses without reaching levels hazardous to humans or the environment. Under specific local conditions of terrain, wind, and temperature, air pollutants may build up to dangerous levels despite relatively low volumes of local emissions. For example, cold, calm weather in winter may create thermal inversions and potential for air pollution build‑up in low areas surrounded by mountains, such as Seward, Bear Creek, Moose Pass, and Port Graham.
Interregional Air Pollution Transport
According to ADEC air quality specialists, potential transmission of air pollution between the Borough and other regions is not a serious concern and has not been addressed because the current levels of pollutants disperse in the intervening distances. When winds prevail from the north or east, northern areas of the Borough, including Hope, Beluga, and Tyonek, are downwind from Anchorage but do not appear to be impacted by air pollution blown in from Anchorage. Under southerly winds, Anchorage is downwind from the Nikiski industrial area but does not appear to be impacted by air pollutants blown north from the industrial facilities in Nikiski.
EXISTING REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
Although federal and state agencies have primary responsibility for air quality protection, the Borough regulates air quality to some extent under the Noxious, Injurious, and Hazardous Use Ordinance (Chapter 21.12) of the Borough code. Complaints under Chapter 21.12 typically concern either dust from gravel pits and other industrial sites, or odors.
The Borough currently has no specific ordinances regulating air quality.
The primary federal regulation for air quality is the Clean Air Act of 1970, as amended in 1977. Under this Act, EPA established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for maximum permissible ambient concentrations of "criteria pollutants": carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, total suspended particulate, and lead.
Seven additional criteria pollutants will be regulated after final enactment of the Clean Air Act amendments in late 1990. Federal law requires routine ambient air monitoring only in areas with populations exceeding 200,000.
Because air quality on the Kenai Peninsula meets the NAAQS standard for all listed pollutants, the Kenai Peninsula is designated an "attainment area." EPA has established limits for allowable increases ("increments") of ambient concentrations in attainment areas. This policy is called the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) system.
There are two major shortcomings of federal air pollution regulation that may prove detrimental to air quality on the Kenai Peninsula, especially the Nikiski area.
0 The EPA's PSD increments (allowable increases of ambient concentrations in attainment areas) have been established only for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates. Regulations do not limit increases in other air pollutants generated in large amounts on the Kenai Peninsula, most notably carbon monoxide and ammonia; but industry has been working to reduce emissions of these substances.
0 The EPA PSD increment system does not address compound impacts of increased air pollution, or the cumulative impacts from low‑volume sources of emissions until the PSD region becomes a non‑attainment area. This could allow continued gradual degradation of air quality.
ADEC administers the EPA's PSD program in Alaska by issuing air quality control permits according to NAA0S standards that outline specific limits and stipulations for each facility. Major new sources of emissions or expansions of existing sources in a clean air region must use the "best available technology" (BAT), which is determined case by case. In addition, ADEC has established three classifications for air basins offering different degrees of protection against future air quality degradation (the protection standards are based on particulate and sulfur dioxide). The most protective classification, Class 1, applies to only one area within the Kenai Peninsula Borough: the Chisik Island area, within the Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge. The rest of the Borough (and much of the state) are designated Class 11, which allows slightly higher concentrations of pollutants. No areas in the state have been classified as Class 111, which allows the highest pollution levels.
ADEC began ambient air monitoring on the Kenai Peninsula recently at specific problem sites. ADEC initiated air monitoring at Bernice Lake in late 1988 and monitored air in the Soldotna area during eruptions of Mt. Redoubt in 1989‑1990. ADEC staff, by joint agreement with EPA, conduct annual and routine spot inspections of major petrochemical facilities in Nikiski.
ADEC is developing new air quality standards, including the regulation of air pollutants as a weight ratio to the desired product, rather than as a parts per million ratio of the exhaust produced. This would prevent facilities from diluting polluted air with clean air before passing it through their stacks in order to meet stack emission standards.
The proposed ammonia standard of 3.1 parts per million is undergoing review by the Alaska Department of Law.
ADEC is also proposing to reduce its standard for opacity for prill tower (industrial stack) emissions to allow 40 percent opacity instead of the existing 30 percent opacity.
The State also regulates open burning that would create toxic or noxious emissions or create fire danger: incinerators; industrial processes and generators; motor vehicle emissions; wood‑fired heating devices; and marine vessels within three miles of the coastline. The primary criteria for emissions from these sources deal with reduction of visibility through the exhaust effluent and emission of particulate matter (18 AAC 50.030 ‑.110). Many listed industrial processes and facilities require an ADEC permit to operate.
TOXIC AND HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES
Given its vast acreage and potential resources, the Kenai Peninsula Borough is still lightly developed and populated. Large parts of the Borough remain relatively free from the environmental contamination associated with urban and industrial areas. However, there are sites of local contamination from waste spills or unsafe disposal. The State has catalogued over 100 sites of potential hazardous waste contamination in the Borough in the Comprehensive Inventory Report [of] Potential Waste Disposal Sites and Other Reports Complaints [for the] Kenai Peninsula Borough (Harding Lawson and Associates, 1989). State and federal agencies are actively involved in cleanup of contaminated sites. Some residents question the adequacy of regulations, monitoring, and enforcement to safeguard public health and the environment from current and future pollution.
Industrial and Commercial Sources
The Kenai Peninsula Borough ranks as one of the most industrialized parts of Alaska, with fourteen onshore and seven offshore oil and gas fields, two petroleum refineries, a large urea/ammonia plant, several sawmills, and numerous seafood processing plants. These industries, as well as various activities of private individuals, generate or use an assortment of toxic and hazardous substances, which are sometimes released into the environment through emissions, spills or unsafe disposal.
According to ADEC, the primary sources of toxic and hazardous waste contamination in the Borough are the following types of releases: (ADEC Division of Environmental Quality, 1990):
· leaking of industrial process fluids into the soils and ground water aquifers beneath or adjacent to major industrial process plant sites in the Nikiski area;
· leaking of petroleum products from storage tanks and lines into the soils and ground water aquifers; and
· disposing of drilling muds, sludges, and contaminated fluids from oil and gas drilling and transportation activities.
Historically, the most common methods of solid waste disposal in the Kenai Peninsula Borough have been the dumping of waste onto the ground or into unlined pits or, in the case of oily wastes, spreading them on roads for dust control. Currently, state and federal regulations prohibit waste disposal in unlined pits and most oiling of ground surfaces.
Solid Waste Disposal Sites
Solid waste disposal sites are a potential source of contamination because they contain a large volume and variety of wastes. The Comprehensive Inventory Report lists 68 solid waste disposal sites (both active and inactive) permitted by ADEC within the Borough. This includes Kenai Peninsula Borough landfills, other landfills, permitted reserve pit sites, and septage or sewage disposal sites. Petrochemical wastes and other toxic and hazardous wastes cannot be legally disposed of at Borough landfills or transfer sites.
Drilling Waste Disposal Sites
The Comprehensive Inventory Report lists 200 potential drilling waste disposal sites (reserve pits) in the Borough, based on records of drilling pads and well locations supplied by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC). The list includes exploratory wells in close proximity to established fields, but not more widely‑scattered wells. The greatest concentration of sites ‑‑a total of 68‑‑ lies within the Swanson River oilfield. Currently, drilling waste is disposed of by industry in private facilities, specifically designed and permitted for this purpose. Impermeable liners, caps, and surface contouring prevent leaching and contamination.
Spills and Leaks
Spills of crude oil, refined petroleum products, and process chemicals have caused soil and ground water contamination in the vicinity of the petrochemical facilities in Nikiski. Spills and leaks from small‑scale commercial enterprises, such as gas stations and dry cleaners, account for at least 10 percent of the potential contaminated sites in the Borough. These sites often pose a greater burden to the public than large industrial sites because the property owners may not have the financial resources to fund the entire cleanup, and sites may be located closer to residential ground water sources. Clean up efforts have been initiated at many of these sites and steps are being taken to improve monitoring and storage practices to avoid future spills.
Non‑industrial Sources of Toxic and Hazardous Substances
Individuals use and dispose of a variety of toxic and hazardous substances. Oil, antifreeze, batteries, paint, paint thinners, private fuel tanks, refrigerators containing freon, drums of toxic and hazardous substances, and contaminated soils have been identified on small private parcels throughout the Borough. Disposal of agricultural products, especially outdated or recalled pesticides, is also reported to be a problem. Frequently, proper disposal and clean up of contaminated soils is beyond the financial resources of the current property owner.
Current Investigation of Contamination
In 1989, ADEC commissioned a Borough‑wide inventory of sites with known or alleged contamination by oil, hazardous substance releases, or improper disposal of wastes. In addition, ADEC contracted for investigation and/or cleanup at sites with known contamination. The Comprehensive Inventory Report identified and reported on 68 potential waste disposal sites and recorded reports/complaint for approximately 90 additional potential sites. ADEC is currently
conducting the Kenai Cleanup Project at some of the listed sites with approximately $3 million in special appropriations from the Alaska State Legislature. ADEC is initiating and overseeing site assessment to determine type and extent of contamination and taking steps to protect public health by assisting in clean up efforts.
Industrial Pollution Control Programs
Industrial operators in the Borough are cooperating to find new solutions for safe waste disposal. Efforts include the recent construction of shared industrial waste disposal sites at Kustatan Ridge and Beaver Creek, in compliance with state and federal regulations; soil burners to burn off hydrocarbon contaminants; and bio‑remediation to stabilize and bind pollutants to soils, or to hasten their decomposition. Industry contacts note an ongoing need for additional solid waste disposal capacity at the point of generation.
Clean up of existing contaminated sites is proceeding with EPA oversight. Projects include recovery systems to retrieve oil‑contaminated ground water, and incineration of contaminated soils.
To respond to emergency spills, ten petrochemical operators have jointly sponsored a non‑profit response unit, know as the Cook Inlet Spill Prevention and Response, Inc. (CISPRI). In accordance with ADEC criteria, this unit will be capable of containing a 50,000 barrel spill in 72 hours, beginning June 1, 1991. The unit will eventually have stockpiles of response equipment at several locations to cover both Cook Inlet waters and uplands in the vicinity of production, processing, and transport facilities. CISPRI will maintain a reserve fund of approximately $1 million to respond to spills by non‑members. CISPRI would then seek compensation from the liable non‑member party after determination of liability.
Borough Handling of Toxic and Hazardous Waste
The Borough began a program to upgrade fuel tank installations at Borough facilities in 1989. Many Borough schools have underground heating fuel tanks not covered by federal regulations (because they hold fuel only for on‑site consumptive use). The Borough is proceeding on its own initiative to excavate these tanks and replace them with above‑ground tanks or new fuel sources. The Borough has also replaced the tanks at its vehicle fueling facility in Homer in 1990 and will upgrade its second fueling site, in Soldotna, in 1993.
The Borough is currently considering disposal methods for oil‑contaminated soils excavated from Borough sites. Options include converting the soils to asphalt, or incineration.
The Borough assists residents to dispose of household toxic and hazardous wastes by coordinating with ADEC to run a hazardous waste collection program in Homer, Soldotna, and Seward for two to four days every spring. The Borough would like to expand the collection to other locations and to establish permanent collection sites in Soldotna and Homer that would be staffed for collections once per week.
Under ADEC permit requirements, the Borough monitors Borough‑operated solid waste sites for possible contamination by conducting quarterly or bi‑annual water sampling. The water sampling sites are the landfills in Soldotna, Kenai, Homer, and Seward, as well as the Sterling Special Waste Site.
EXISTING REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
The Borough has no specific ordinance regulating toxic and hazardous substances. Chapter 21.12 of the Borough code generally serves as a reactive remedy to undesirable land uses rather than a preemptive protection measure for residents. For this reason, Chapter 21.12 is not a first line of defense for residents against the health hazards of toxic and hazardous substances. However, industrial developers who handle or produce toxic or hazardous substances still face the prospect of Borough regulation under Chapter 21.12.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is intended to cover current waste handling in order to prevent spills and dangerous dumping.
RCRA lists hazardous wastes by name or by production process in 40 CFR §261.3. In addition, RCRA may extend to unlisted wastes that are characterized by corrosivity, toxicity, ignitability, or reactivity. The RCRA designation of wastes as toxic and hazardous is not always straightforward. Sometimes the source of the waste is the primary factor in determining whether RCRA applies, rather than the type, volume, or toxicity of the waste. Installation and registration of commercial underground storage tanks are regulated by RCRA and administered by ADEC under joint agreement with EPA.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund) addresses the public health threat from past waste disposal. CERCLA assigns sites a priority for cleanup based on a hazard ranking system (HRS) score that emphasizes the number of people exposed to the hazards at the site. As a result, many contamination sites in the Borough, where population densities are generally low, receive low priority under CERCLA. Because the scoring process is not subject to public review or comment, local residents have little chance to influence the HRS scores.
CERCLA was amended by the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) in 1986. Important new provisions included in Title III:
0 the community right‑to‑know provision which requires reporting on locations and quantities of chemicals;
0 emergency planning and release notification; and
0 emissions inventory reporting.
SARA also added the Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) program (Title V) and established cleanup liability.
The Acts do have some shortfalls that could potentially affect the Borough. Most oil and gas exploration and production wastes are exempt from RCRA. Oil spills are exempt from CERCLA, but are regulated by ADEC under provisions of the Clean Water Act. Another potential shortfall of the federal Acts is that they do not directly regulate residential underground storage tanks for non‑commercial use.
A new amendment to RCRA, the Toxic Characteristic/Leaching Potential Test (TCLP), effective September 29, 1990, will add 26 new chemicals to the list of hazardous substances and decrease the maximum limits for others including benzene. In doing so, the Act classifies spills of petroleum products that do not pass the TCLP test as hazardous waste spills for purposes of liability. Most lubricating oils pass the TCLP test and are not considered hazardous.
ADEC shares enforcement of RCRA with EPA. ADEC inspects facilities and sites, and reviews records and sampling results submitted by facility operators. ADEC reports violations to EPA for enforcement.
The state criteria (18 AAC 62) defining hazardous waste and hazardous waste facilities incorporate federal guidelines. ADEC requires all generators of hazardous waste to obtain a state/EPA identification number that is used to distinguish and track the waste to the point of final treatment and disposal. All waste generators must submit an annual report to AIDEC; describing their efforts to reduce the volume and toxicity of waste generated, the changes in volume and toxicity of waste produced in comparison to previous years, and a description and destination for all hazardous waste shipped off‑site (18 AAC 62.010‑.220, by authority of AS 46.03.020 et. al.)
ADEC's State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), formed in accordance with SARA requirements, is currently overseeing regional and local government contingency planning for releases of oil and hazardous substances. State contingency planning requirements do not cover land‑based transport of some oil and hazardous substances.
Siting of Hazardous Waste Facilities
For the siting of a hazardous waste facility, the State encourages participation by the general public and local elected officials. The ADEC commissioner must appoint an advisory committee that includes local representatives to hold public meetings and report local suggestions to the ADEC commissioner.
The siting of a hazardous waste facility must meet numerous requirements. These include minimum separation requirements from critical habitat areas, natural hazard areas, National Wildlife Refuges and Parks, surface waters and aquifers, and water supply points of withdrawal.
Spill Reporting and Cleanup Liability
The State regulates discharge of oil and hazardous materials to inland waters and the land through reporting and cleanup requirements (18 AAC 75.070.180). These regulations define spills independently from the CERCLA hazard ranking system and assign cleanup measures. Specifically the state's recently passed Hazardous Materials Liability Act covers all materials regulated by CERCLA, as well as all oil or oil-contaminated materials.
The State regulates surface oiling through a permit system, with stipulations concerning the content of the oil and the method of application (18 AAC 75.010‑.080).
Although noise is not a pervasive problem in the sparsely developed Borough, noise is the most frequent source of nuisance complaints filed with the Borough. Approximately 90 percent of all complaints filed under Chapter 21.12 of the Borough code regard noise, most commonly arising from barking dogs or operation of machinery after standard working hours. Other sources of objectionable noise include: industrial uses such as power plants, gas wells and saw mills; residential uses such as barking dogs; recreational uses such rifle ranges and speedways; and traffic, primarily trucks.
In past Borough planning efforts, the following land uses were identified as sources of potentially objectionable noise:
0 excavating and extracting: including coal mining sites, oil and gas drilling sites, sand and gravel extraction sites, and other similar uses;
0 industrial: including asphalt and cement batch plants, energy generating plants, oil and gas pipeline pumping stations, drilling rigs, oil refineries, petrochemical plants, saw mills, and seafood processing facilities;
0 recreational uses: motor vehicle race tracks and weapon ranges;
0 hazardous or toxic materials handling facilities: including explosive storage sites, transportation depots and transfer sites, and other uses of similar character and impact.
Transportation corridors and freight loading areas are also major sources of background noise. This includes highways and arterial roadways, the Alaska Railroad corridor, and docking facilities.
EXISTING REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
Noise‑complaints are frequently filed under Chapter 21.12 of the Borough Code, which lists noise as one characteristic of noxious conditions.
Although several state and federal agencies issue noise guidelines for activities under their regulatory control, there is no over‑reaching state or federal law governing noise. The federal Noise Act of 1972 expired in 1977, leaving federal agencies to promulgate their own noise policies based on guidance standards issued by the EPA. Federal noise standards generally either protect human health, such as workplace noise limits established by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA); or control public nuisances such as airport noise standards set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or highway noise standards set by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
OSHA is one of the few federal agencies to have statutory enforcement authority. Without an omnibus act on which to base enforcement of noise standards, other federal agencies generally force compliance with noise standards by withholding funding unless a project meets noise guidelines.
Few State of Alaska agencies have adopted noise guidelines. State noise guidelines parallel federal standards: workplace noise limits, requirements for noise barriers in housing construction, etc.
The rich scenic resources of the Kenai Peninsula Borough are vital to the local visitor industry and the quality of life. Some federal and state land management agencies have inventories and guidelines for scenic preservation, but most of the scenic resources within the Borough are not managed as a specific resource.
Natural Scenic Resources
The Borough encompasses natural scenery of extraordinary diversity and quality. Natural scenic resources are economically important. For example, the icefields, tidewater glaciers, fjords, and island‑dotted bays of the southern Kenai Peninsula annually attract thousands of visitors aboard cruise ships, tour buses, and sightseeing flights. Scenic resources are also important to the local quality of life. Dramatic views of mountains or waterways contribute daily personal enjoyment to residents and enhance their property values.
Wildlife viewing is a highly valued activity on the Kenai Peninsula for both residents and visitors. Primary attractions include big game such as sheep, moose, and bear; marine mammals such as sea otters and whales; and birds such as bald eagles, puffins, and waterfowl.
Cultural Scenic Resources
Cultural elements of the landscape contribute variety and human interest to the scenery of the Kenai Peninsula. Examples include:
· historical buildings and sites;
· commercial facilities that typify the regional resources and lifestyles; and
· visual enhancements such as gateway signs, landscaping, and public artworks.
There is no complete inventory of the scenic resources of the Kenai Peninsula. However, there are many partial lists and catalogs of scenic resources, including visitor guides and other publicity materials published for tourism, photos compiled by local museums and historians, and several quarterly publications of the Alaska Geographic Society.
The State Office of Historic Preservation within the Department of Natural Resources maintains a record of known sites of historical importance on the Alaska Heritage Resource Survey. The Kenai Peninsula Borough contains over 700 sites, some of which include scenic features. The National Register of Historic Places recognizes 23 sites of historical and cultural significance in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
The Seward Highway is designated a National Scenic Highway by the National Forest Service Scenic Byway Program.
EXISTING REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
The Borough has no scenic preservation guidelines or ordinances. However, adjoining property owners may regulate aesthetics through private covenants or by requesting local option zoning under Chapter 21.08 of the Borough code. Local option zoning is available by petition from the majority of the landowners for regions of 12 or more contiguous parcels in the rural district. Aesthetic standards in residential zones could include requirements for setbacks and vegetation buffers, prohibition of sheds or temporary buildings, prohibition of junkyards, towers or antennae, etc.
Scenic resources on the 1.2 million acres of National Forest Lands within the Borough receive specific management consideration by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The USFS inventories and rates scenic resources throughout Chugach National Forest as part of its comprehensive planning process. Areas of highest scenic value are often designated for recreation development or wilderness management. The USFS's landscape architects work with timber managers on site planning for timber harvests and with recreation planners to design trails, campgrounds, and other facilities for maximum scenic quality. The USFS's 1984 Land and Resources Management Plan rates the Kenai Peninsula as "the most viewed landscape in Chugach National Forest and exhibit[ing] the most visual variety of any national forest land in Alaska."
The USFWS manages scenic resources on approximately 2 million acres in the Kenai National Wildlife Range and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. The USFWS does not evaluate or plan for scenic resources in managing these refuges. A USFWS planner notes that most wildlife management activities do not impact scenic qualities.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), responsible for 230,000 acres in the Borough, follows a 3‑step planning process for visual resources: (1) inventorying and rating visual qualities; (2) analyzing their potential to fulfill management objectives; and finally, (3) assigning visual resources to one of five visual management classes.
The National Park Service (NPS) manages 2.5 million acres of parklands within the Borough, comprised of portions of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and Katmai National Park and Preserve. NPS planning guidelines do not include assessment of visual resources.
There is some federal regulatory authority over scenic resources that are not located on federal lands. The Highway Beautification Act (1965) limits outdoor advertising along federally funded highways. The NPS has established the National Register of Historic Places, which designates places of national, state, and local significance and controls any repairs or alterations funded by public money.
Historic sites are protected under the Alaska Historic Preservation Act (1975) (AS 41.35) which makes it unlawful to remove, excavate, or destroy a historical site without permission from the State Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, State Historic Preservation Office. Alaska statutes concerning state parks designate protection of scenic resources as one of the goals of state park management.
Scenic resources on state‑owned lands within the Borough will be inventoried in the Kenai Area Management Plan, a current project of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Land and Water Management. Protection of, and access to, state‑owned areas of highest scenic value will be a factor in management recommendations.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) regulates the scenic quality of road corridors. Alaska Statute 19.25.080 restricts outdoor advertising by prohibiting commercial signs within the rights‑of‑way of interstate, primary, and secondary highways. Signs posted on adjoining private property may not be visible from within 660 feet, with the exception of directional or official signs. However, this regulation has not been consistently enforced.
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ISSUES
Water Quality Issues
On‑site Sewage Disposal ‑ Contamination of wells and surface water from individual septic systems is a problem in some areas with inadequate lot size or soil conditions for on‑site sewage disposal;
Septage Sludge Disposal Systems ‑ Sludge disposal sites, regular maintenance of septic tanks, and improvements to septic and sludge disposal systems are needed in a number of rural communities.
Accidental Releases of Toxic and Hazardous Substances ‑ Leaks, spills or improper storage of toxic and hazardous substances at public and private facilities have resulted in groundwater contamination in isolated areas of the borough;
Cleanup and Monitoring of Contaminated Sites ‑ Continued investigation, monitoring and cleanup is needed at a number of waste disposal pits, landfills and spill sites to protect local water quality. Other suspected sites need timely investigation to determine whether contamination exists.
Waste Disposal - New landfills, industrial waste sites or septage disposal sites near residential areas or water sources could affect water quality.
River Bank and Shoreline Development ‑ Fish habitat, bank erosion, sediment loads, and sediment disposition can be affected by development of river banks and shorelines;
Wetland Development ‑ There is limited detailed data about the locations or functional values of wetlands within the borough. Dredging or filling of high value wetlands could affect groundwater recharge, water quality, drainage, or fish and wildlife habitat. Development of low‑value wetlands could be unnecessarily restricted.
Groundwater Depletion ‑ Alteration of aquifer recharge areas or large volume withdrawal of groundwater could impact groundwater tables. Little is known about recharge areas or sustainable rates of withdrawal;
Marine Research ‑ Continued investigation and monitoring of marine hydrology, impacts of effluents discharged to marine waters, and contaminant fate and transport is needed;
Air Quality Issues
Air Quality Standards ‑ Existing State and Federal air quality regulations may not be adequate to address cumulative or compound effects of air emissions and do not address some contaminants released within the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Enforcement of air quality standards ‑ Monitoring and enforcement of air quality standards has not been consistently applied.
Odors ‑ Odors from public and private activities have caused problems in some areas.
Toxic and Hazardous Substances Issues
Disposal of Contaminated Soil ‑ There is no local site or affordable method to dispose of soils determined to be contaminated. Disposal costs are often beyond the economic resources of responsible parties.
Household Hazardous Waste Disposal ‑ More frequent and convenient collection small quantities of household toxic and hazardous wastes is needed. No disposal program is available in isolated areas of the Borough.
Disposal of Toxic and Hazardous Materials - Public and private parties with larger volumes of toxic or hazardous materials are seeking affordable disposal methods.
Noise Standards - There are no adopted standards for evaluating noise complaints within the Borough.
Scenic Quality Issues
Protection of Specific Views ‑ Specific viewsheds or historic landmarks may be impacted by incompatible development.
Off‑site Signs ‑ Signs along the highways provide important information to residents and tourists about the location of local businesses, but an excessive number or size of signs can be unsightly.
Junkyards and Storage Yards ‑ Unsightliness of junkyards and storage yards visible from roadways is a common complaint. These facilities are not regulated outside of cities.
COMPREHENSIVE PLAN GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
GOAL 6.1: To work with state and federal regulatory agencies to protect public health and the environment within the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Objective 1. To avoid duplication of existing state and federal regulations or research programs, and work with agencies to improve these programs if they are inadequate.
Action A The Borough will establish a Cooperative Agreement with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and work with the State on a regular basis to address environmental issues which are a common concern, including: oil and hazardous substance spills, solid waste disposal, leaking underground storage tanks, treatment/disposal of contaminated soils, air, land and water quality, and subdivision site plan review.
Action B The Planning Department will obtain copies of relevant state or federal regulations, and solicit agency input prior to adopting regulations which could duplicate or conflict with existing regulations or programs.
Objective 2. To provide input to state and federal agencies on local conditions and public opinion to assist them in enforcing or applying state and federal programs to local issues.
Action A The Planning Department and Planning Commission will review state and federal permits and actions and provide Borough comments under the authority of the Alaska Coastal Management Program.
Action B The Planning, Public Works and Assessing Departments will maintain positive working relationships with state and federal environmental agency staff to facilitate environmental enforcement and cleanup activities.
Action C The Planning Department will coordinate with other agencies to obtain better information about the local environment and make this information available to the public and agency officials for use in designing and evaluating proposed development projects.
Objective 3. In areas where state and federal programs are inadequate, develop local standards or regulations to protect environmental quality.
Action A The Planning Department will identify any local environmental problems which are not adequately addressed by state and federal programs and work toward developing local solutions.
GOAL 6.2: To achieve and maintain a high level of water quality in the surface waters, wetlands, groundwater and marine waters of the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Objective 1. To increase scientific understanding and public awareness of ground water, surface water, wetland, and marine water resources in the Kenai Peninsula Borough to serve as an information base for water quality planning, monitoring, and enforcement activities.
Action A The Borough will continue to support and cooperate with state and federal agencies and industry to complete groundwater studies recommended by the Kenai Peninsula Ground Water Task Force.
Action B The Borough will coordinate with state and federal agencies and industry to identify funding sources or assistance in completing similar studies for surface waters and marine waters within the Borough.
Action C The Borough will pursue funding and assistance to map the locations and determine the ecological function of wetlands.
Action D The Borough will include public education programs about water quality issues in Borough schools, and participate, as appropriate, in public education efforts sponsored by other organizations within the Borough.
Action E The Borough encourages sponsors of significant development projects to incorporate a public involvement/awareness component about measures taken to minimize adverse impacts to water quality.
Objective 2. To minimize the negative impacts to water quality from dredging, filling, and grading in water bodies, wetlands, and intertidal areas.
Action A The Borough will provide input to state and federal regulatory agencies to enforce the Kenai Peninsula Borough Coastal Management Program requirements regarding development in waterways, wetlands, or shoreline areas.
Action B The Planning Department will update Coastal Management policies on wetlands development as better mapping and information about wetlands becomes available.
Action C The Planning Department will complete "Area Meriting Special Attention" plans under the Alaska Coastal Management Program to provide more detailed policies regarding development along important rivers and other coastal areas within the Borough.
Action D The Borough encourages land owners to grant conservation easements for wetlands and uplands with sensitive water quality functions or values.
Objective 3. To minimize potential sources of soil and water contamination from Borough operations and Borough facilities.
Action A The Public Works Department will continue working to replace all underground storage tanks at Borough facilities with environmentally sound tanks, and to remediate or properly dispose of contaminated soils.
Action B The Public Works and Maintenance Departments will continue to employ appropriate technology to prevent, minimize, or mitigate impacts on water quality from road maintenance, landfill operation, and other Borough facility operations and services.
Objective 4. To coordinate with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) to ensure that new lots in areas not served by central water and sewer are adequate to support on‑site septic systems.
Action A The Planning Department will work with ADEC to resolve procedural problems regarding subdivision plat review and enforcement of state water quality regulations.
Objective 5. To improve water quality in areas where ground water is presently contaminated.
Action A The Borough encourages state and federal agencies and responsible parties to fund and implement clean‑up programs.
GOAL 6.3: To maintain a high level of air quality throughout the Borough and work toward improving air quality in isolated areas where problems exist.
Objective 1. To develop baseline data on air quality in the Borough.
Action A The Planning Department will coordinate with resource agencies and industry to ensure that scientific data on ambient air quality, air circulation patterns, and types and concentrations of air emissions in the Borough is available for planning, monitoring, and enforcement.
Action B The Borough encourages state and federal agencies to maintain information in the local ADEC office about quantities, types, and effects of emissions from point sources of pollution monitored by ADEC and EPA.
Objective 2. To address any air quality issues that are not adequately regulated or enforced under state and federal regulatory systems.
Action A The Borough will cooperate with state and federal agencies, environmental groups and industry to address any existing or perceived gaps in regulation or enforcement.
Action B The Planning Department will coordinate with EPA and ADEC to insure that adequate regulations are developed for harmful emissions not currently regulated.
Action C The Borough will develop a definition or standard concerning persistent offensive odors and include it in a rewrite or replacement for Chapter 21.12 of Borough Code of Ordinances.
HAZARDOUS AND TOXIC SUBSTANCES
GOAL 6.4: To encourage the safe handling and disposal of hazardous or toxic substances within the Borough.
Objective 1. To promote public awareness of potential hazards associated with handling of toxic and hazardous substances in the community.
Action A The Borough Office of Emergency Management will cooperate with residents, industry and state and federal agencies through the Local Emergency Planning Committee to develop information about the location, types, and amounts of toxic or hazardous substances within the Borough.
Action B Borough Planning Department will request that responsible parties and regulatory agencies give adequate public notice and conduct a public hearing, if appropriate, prior to approval of new permits for use or disposal of toxic or hazardous substances.
Action C The Borough Planning and Public Works departments will coordinate with state and federal agencies to distribute public information materials regarding use and proper disposal of toxic and hazardous materials.
Objective 2. To identify any potentially harmful substances used or disposed of within the Borough that are not adequately regulated by state and federal agencies to serve as the basis for future planning, monitoring, or enforcement activity.
Action A The Borough will coordinate with State and Federal Agencies to evaluate the materials identified in the LEPC study, identify any regulatory deficiencies and work towards solving any problems.
Objective 3. Work towards the development of more cost effective methods of disposing of toxic and hazardous waste generated within the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
Action A The Borough Planning and Public Works Departments will investigate the feasibility and potential funding sources for a local treatment or disposal facility for unwanted toxic or hazardous substances and contaminated soils.
Action B The Borough encourages the development and permitting for a private toxic or hazardous waste disposal or treatment facility to handle waste generated within the Borough.
Objective 4. Develop local emergency response procedures to handle accidental discharge of toxic or hazardous substances.
Action A The Borough Office of Emergency Management will continue to work with the Local Emergency Planning Committee, industry, and state and federal agencies and local fire and emergency medical organizations to develop appropriate emergency response procedures.
GOAL 6.5: Minimize adverse Impacts from extreme noise in residential and other sensitive areas.
Objective 1. To develop appropriate standards or regulations regarding acceptable levels of noise in noise‑sensitive areas of the Borough.
Action A Identify noise‑sensitive land uses, such as residential areas, schools, hospitals, etc.
Action B Establish standards for maximum allowable noise and vibration in noise sensitive areas.
GOAL 6.6: To maintain or Improve scenic quality in visible areas of the Borough.
Objective 1. To minimize the adverse visual impacts of development activities adjoining residential and recreation areas and major road corridors.
Action A The Borough will work toward development of commercial display advertisement sign standards to protect scenic quality along major road corridors, while allowing adequate advertising for local businesses, and encourage the state to relinquish control of signs adjacent to state highways.
Action B The Borough will develop standards for screening or removing junk and debris from residential areas and visible areas of the Borough.
Objective 2. To promote visual quality at public facilities throughout the Borough.
Action A The Planning and Public Works Departments will establish advisory guidelines for setbacks, planted areas, lot coverage, parking areas, signs, and lighting for Borough and other public facilities.