MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. - Quality Aggregates is a sand and gravel quarry in Maple Valley. It’s been locked in a five-year legal battle with King County about water. The county claims the quarry has illegally diverted water from Lake Francis that flowed on to its property into a roadside ditch. The county also claims there’s so much water being pumped without a permit that it is damaging the ditch, Lake Francis Road and Maxwell Road.
Just a few blocks from the quarry a portion of Maxwell Road washed out during stormy weather two weeks ago. Water from the quarry was racing along one side of that roadway.
Homeowner Jim Doherty said, “It has to be connected.”
A lawyer for Quality Aggregate claims King County is responsible for the water problems. Bill Chapman said a county culvert steered so much water from Lake Francis on to the quarry in 2009 that homes downhill were being flooded by the runoff.
“Quality created a system to pump that water off the property in order to avoid the problems for those homes and to protect those homes,” said Chapman.
Doherty was one of the homeowners forced to evacuate in 2009. He said, “I had water flowing all around my house. My basement and garage were all flooded.”
Doherty’s water problems have continued with runoff from the quarry regularly eroding his driveway. He said, “I literally have whitewater coming down my driveway sometimes.”
Doherty wished the county and the quarry would just sit down and mutually agree on a good plan to manage surface water in the area. He said, “I’m not seeing evidence of that so far.”