River Erosion Threatens Juneau Subdivision

    Juneau, Alaska (AP) — A Juneau subdivision is looking to keep from falling into the Mendenhall River as erosion in the area worsens.

    The plan was to essentially build a large retention wall big enough to protect 28 homes, KTOO-FM reported .

    But the community's residents can't agree on who should pay for it.

    Each homeowner on Meander Way would be responsible for paying up to $80,000 to build the wall, but that's not what residents Joyce and Curt Goehring said upset them most about the plans. The vast majority of the money was to be spent from federal funds.

    "Just the absurdity of it all really fired us up," Curt Goehring said.

    "Especially when you have all those people from California from the fires and the flooding and stuff," Joyce Goehring added. "That, in our opinion, is what government funds of that nature should go to."

    Seven years ago, the Mendenhall River rose in a matter of hours, and water started seeping into the grass.

    The river used to be ice flowing down from the Suicide Basin Glacier. But as that glacier retreated because of a warming climate, it carved out a bowl.

    "That's why this area is flooding now is because this basin is essentially a bathtub that can be filled up with millions of gallons of water," said Eran Hood, a professor of environmental science at the University of Alaska Southeast.

    Once that water spills over, it flows under the Mendenhall Glacier and eventually floods into the river. It has happened every summer since 2011.

    Hood said it's possible the flooding could become more severe.

    Curt and Joyce Goehring think something should be done about the neighborhood erosion, but not at the expense of millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

    With the neighborhood divided, the Juneau Assembly decided last month it didn't want to force the issue and facilitate the federal funds.

    Joyce Goehring said that right now she's just ready to move on. The Goehrings' home will be up for sale this summer.

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