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Thursday, June 16, 2005

Scenic Development Update

Guess I've been remiss is keeping people updated on Scenic so I'll try my best to give you what I have to date.

Mike's idea for Scenic has been well described earlier so I'll briefly touch on it.

At the time Mike bought the property, one soaking pool remained in place from the sheriffs department destruction of 2003. That is the Monster Tub up at the original upper springs location. When Mike purchased the property he also inherited the original Code Enforcement Action requiring the owners to remove the illegal construction and materials on the mountainside. That includes this tub and probably thousands of pounds of construction material squirrelled away in the trees nearby.

That tub is still there and in use, being maintained by a couple of unofficial volunteers who change out the tarp occasionally and clean the pool. The soak is still a marvelous one with this large tub being segregated into two to accept different temperatures from the four springs sources up there. One is scalding hot from the Lobster Springs, the other really comfortable from Bear Den springs. The water is as clear and silky as it ever was.

Mike Sato has held off tearing this tub down as he likes to soak as well and enjoys others at the springs. He has said more than once that the tub will not come down until he has replacements in use. The county isn't pushing the issue right now . . . concentrating, instead, on his proposals.


The original plan was to develop natural rock pools in the lower NW corner of the property . . . a reasonably gentle sloping area below the BPA corridor that would accommodate a secured parking area as well. That was to be Phase I. Phase ii would have been putting in rock pools at a higher location for the more adventurous soaker . . . these pools to be clothing optional.

This plan was quashed last week when the county (with FS reps) objected to the meandering nature of the streams in the lower area and said 'no pools down here'.

Since then, we have been looking at the original upper springs area again, with input from a geotech engineer who believes that it may be possible to reinforce the slope enough to put in pools either at the original location . . . or approximately 150 ft to the west along the access trail where slopes are more gentle.

In all considerations, the plans have to address toilet facilities, changing rooms, shower facilities and some sort of options for clothed versus clothing optional. These are not much up for negotiation . . . the county insists on them. Mike is committed to providing for clothing-optional and that is always part of his plans. However, textile-impair-eds' have to be addressed also. So there will be several soaking areas.

The designs of the pools are local, natural rock. Mike will strive to keep them appearing natural and as if they belong there. However, he must address the sanitation aspect, and that is an area we are running into brickwalls.

The applicable state regulation (sorry, don't have the number on me right now) is the Water Recreation Act; and the regulation does not give much room for wiggle. We have been to two formal Health Department meetings (the most recent this afternoon) and been rebuffed for our proposals to keep it natural. The act of moving boulders around to create a soaking pool makes the pool artificial by their definition, and thus it comes under the swimming pool rules . . . which means chlorination and safety barriers. There is no recognition or exemption for flow-through natural hot springs (as there are in Alaska and Montana). They are artificial pools subject to the chlorination requirements.

The quality of the water is not even an issue . . . though we addressed protecting the spring sources and such. The issue becomes one of the soakers sharing the pool and shedding harmful germs from their own bodies that might infect other soakers.

We tried to address this with restrictions on who can soak and the flow-through nature of the pools where the water is completely changed every couple of hours. However, this scenario does not exist in the minds of the Health Department. It is a swimming pool and requires RESIDUAL DISINFECTION in the waters, themselves, to kill off harmful organisms before they infect a nearby soaker.

At the last meeting I pointed out that Cryptosporium (Crypto to the backpackers) is not rendered noninfectious by normal pool levels of chlorine in a reasonable amount of time. In a swimming pool or spa, where the water is constantly recirculated, chlorine will inactivate crypto in 8 to 10 hours . . . but meanwhile anyone in the pool is at risk.

By contrast, in a flow-through pool, such as Mike envisions, that same resistant pathogen is flushed long ago down the side of the mountain. It just doesn't stay in the pool that long. You are actually at more risk in a swimming pool than in a natural hot spring pool . . . because the recirculating water keeps the crypto around.

Additionally, hot spring soakers traditionally do not dive or dunk their heads under water . . . nor swallow the water . . . the transmission route for every one of the identified harmful organism Health is concerned about.

Our position is that a properly designed flow-through pool can be made safe within the intent of the regulation and that chlorine or bromine treatment in ineffectual as it does not have enough time to inactivate the bad bugs. However, we are still butting heads. The lawyer says a variance is possible but unlikely . . . so I work on a HACCP plan just in case they accept our arguments.

Meanwhile, an acclaimed pool designer has come on board and is of the opinion that he can sway requirements with the use of an ozone generator. We are looking into that but ozone require electricity . . . and that means generators . . . certainly not someone I want to hear in the tranquility of a soak.

Your opinion does count. The survey responses were presented to Health and ruminated over. I do apologize for the poor design of the survey but it was a rush job. But it helped to define to the county just what expectations were . . . and just how vocal some respondents could get.

Our biggest problem is working around the sanitation issues and personally I could use all the help I could get. This is not my area of expertise, though I am learning. Nor do I have much patience when I have to deal with a Mutt and Jeff routine at these meetings.

Mike has good ideas and can make Scenic really beautiful . . . and seemingly as rustic as it ever was. That he is going to charge is acceptable to many if it keeps the place open and clean . . . and provides safe parking. I don't begrudge him that.

Rick

1 comment:

  1. If, as a last resort, you cannot overcome the chlorination or ozone demand, the ozone generators do not require much power. I have used ozone in my hot tub for 20 years with good results. The ozone generator I have now consumes 11 watts for a 350 gallon tub. Of course, Scenic's needs would require more than the 11 Watts. A solar panel/battery system may be feasible.

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