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Snohomish Co. to break ground on emergency drain to relieve flooded lake

LYNNWOOD, Wash. - For some residents in Snohomish County, 'lakefront property' is taking on a whole new meaning.

A number of homeowners and tenants along Lake Serene in Lynnwood have flooded lawns, sodden backyards, and inches of water where there should be grass. Wednesday's wet weather shattered records across Puget Sound, making this the 5th wettest February regionally -- and adding to an already overflowing lake.

"We are very worried, like everybody else on the lake," said Marc Bhend, a Lake Serene homeowner for 37 years. "If black mold sets in, the house is toast."

County workers are expected to break ground on an emergency drain next Tuesday to help reduce lake levels, said Fay Lim, a communications supervisor with Snohomish County Public Works. An existing pipe is still mostly blocked, letting very little water out.

"The design challenges include: protecting downstream properties from flooding and erosion, including erosion at the downstream ravine; coordinating utility relocations; developing construction techniques to do the construction work while the lake and groundwater levels are high," said Lim, in an email.

The county is monitoring levels daily, she said. The emergency drain should reduce the lake by about a foot.

"The water has been raising, raising, raising from all the rain and so-forth," said Robert Whiteaker, a neighbor. "The water's, like, a foot high underneath our house."

Whiteaker said his dog got sick after drinking lake water this week.

"We had to take her to the vet," he said. "She's taking two different medicines now. The water's full of bacteria, so that's the reason we've got everything blocked off."

Fixing the problem could cost homeowners, however. Lakefront property owners are facing a bill of $197 per year for ten years, the county said this week. The Snohomish County Surface Water Management Utility would pay most of the bill.

"The lake was not supposed to be this high. It's should be about 4 feet lower," said Bhend. "We had a beautiful landscape out here. Spent a lot of money. You don't see it ."

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