Homeowners face home flooding, property loss at Sprague Lake

Some residents around Sprague Lake have had enough. Over the last two years, the lake’s water level has crept above normal levels and stayed there, flooding their homes and limiting their property use.

“We are just getting flooded out, we are losing our homes,” said Monika Merc, who has lived on the lake since 1972, “our houses are losing value.”

They say the fix to the flooding is simple, dredge the outflow of the lake which is called Cow Creek. They say over the last few years it has become overgrown, limiting water flow. The logistics of that fix, however, aren’t so easy, as just doing it.

According to the Department of Ecology, the outflow is on private property and the property owner isn’t obligated to dredge it, despite litigation from earlier years that the residents thought protected them.

Furthermore, if the property owner did want to dredge it, the state would require impact studies and it would take time and money.

Residents say they don’t have that time, as some of them have already spent thousands of dollars to fix or replace furniture and water heaters that were damaged when basements flooded.

Additionally, some of the houses have had structural impacts, with posts rotting or foundations sinking and cracking. Mold has also become a problem in damp homes and residents are worried about their health.

Merc, who runs a camping ground along the lake says because the water levels are higher, she has to open the grounds a month later than usual, costing her up to $10,000 a year.

“We feel like we are being held hostage,” said resident Dalton Haubold, “the state has no teeth to enforce anything.”

Both residents say they need something, anything to be done now to protect them from the advancing lake.

The state says they are planning a non-structural flood proofing study right now, that would allow for the Army Corps of Engineer to come out and see what they could do to flood-proof homes. However, the study is currently unfunded and wouldn’t be until likely this fall.