Who manages Claggett Creek?

Raised waters from Claggett Creek

Flooding from Claggett Creek in Keizer is not new to the citizens who have to deal with it. However, as of this past summer, the issue is growing worse and nobody appears to know who is responsible for fixing it. 

A small section of six residences along Claggett Street are those that appear to be dealing with the flooding as it takes over large portions of each property during a flood event. 

The flooding comes on quickly, often overnight, and takes several days to recede, according to Keizer resident Naomi Rodriguez who lives on Claggett Street. 

The creek itself now appears to be less of a creek and more of a marshland with no discernable bank to speak of. 

Rodriguez lives at one of the residences and said the backyard flooded worse than it has since 1996. 

“We know flooding. I mean we’re used to this, but it’s coming up faster, higher. It’s flooding more and more,” Rodriguez said. 

Rodriguez’s neighbor, Jesse Graham, agreed saying, “it was pretty close up to my fire pit, which when you get to the fire pit, you got a problem.” 

For reference, the fire pit Graham referred to is near his home halfway up his property which ends at the creek. 

According to Rodriguez, flooding has been something they have experienced a lot in the 35 years they have lived on Claggett Street. 

In the flood of February 1996, multiple homes were damaged with several residents receiving FEMA funds to aid them moving from the flood plain. 

When asked about a possible cause, Rodriguez mentioned the new apartment complex on Verda Lane. 

“I know [Verda Crossing Apartments] say that they didn’t do anything to change the flow, but it’s our understanding they use big pipes to divert the water. I don’t know if that impacts us. The city says no, but they shut down [my questions] fast because [the apartments] were really controversial, but there’s something that’s wrong,” said Rodriguez. 

Rodriguez discussed her efforts in trying to find aid in the matter though has come up short. 

She said she contacted the cities of Keizer and Salem, the Oregon Department of State Lands and Keizer’s Claggett Creek Watershed Council, all of whom have been unable to provide sufficient guidance as to who can assist with the issue. 

“There’s just no answer. So the question is, if nobody owns it why can’t we dredge it? Who’s going to sue? Nobody else is taking responsibility,” Rodriguez said. 

According to the 2011 Marion County Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan, flood damage affects not only the buildings near the water but also hillsides and other areas far removed from the floodplain if not abated. 

The current Keizer floodplain permit liaison, Shane Witham, said that while no specific entity may be able to solve the issue, residents could obtain a floodplain permit from the city to pursue a solution. 

The permit would ensure that any new construction would not affect the wildlife in the area and, according to Witham, also appears to be the only way residents can actually address the problem, by spending more money. 

These permits can be costly for property owners as they not only need to provide the material for the berm, but also hire the engineers needed to ensure the creek is properly headed off and constructed berms are sound. 

Witham suggested that there was a beaver dam possibly clogging the creek, though Frank Rodriguez, Naomi’s husband, as well as Graham spoke to removing them with Graham removing two of them himself. 

“There is no beaver dam. They moved them. And honestly, the coyotes are eating everything that moves,” Graham finished. 

Rodriguez brought the issue up at the City Council meeting on Dec. 18, though may not have gotten the desired response as Bill Lawyer, the Public Works Director, responded, “it may be one of those situations where there is no regulatory governmental organization to deal with that [flooding].” 

Receding water from Claggett Creek on Dec. 19
The creek water receding after a rainfall the night before on Dec. 19
“We know flooding. I mean we’re used to this, but it’s coming up faster, higher. It’s flooding more and more.”
Without a noticeable bank, the creek begins to look more like a marshland

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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