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Matanuska River


September 2012: Because the protection system that was put in place along the east bank of the Matanuska River in the early 1980s had not been maintained and was allowed to erode and deteriorate, the Matanuska River washed over its banks to cause flooding, hardship and worries community-wide.
Matanuska-Susitna Borough Flooding 2012

June 20, 2012: When residents observed new erosion areas, they sent this video to the Matanuska Susitna Borough and our State of Alaska representatives asking them to take immediate action to mitigate potential flooding  when it was obvious that the likelihood of an “event” was about to happen. No preventive measures were taken.

“Where the Matanuska Flows”

There’s a beautiful vale in Alaska,
Where a laughing river flows,
Framed by the mountains majestic
Its beauty their grandeur enfolds....

Excerpt from “The Colorful Matanuska Valley” by Don L. Irwin (c) 1968







Matanuska River, June 20, 2010.
The dike from Ye Olde River Road to Maud Road showed serious signs of erosion. A parking lot that adjoined the north end of the dike off the Maud Road dike access was washed away a couple of years before.


September 2010: residents were concerned in  after record rains eroded the Matanuska River protection system of dikes, levee and revetments on the east bank. The parking lot from the access road at Maud Road to the dike was gone as were large chunks of the dike. Two feet of ground were left between the Matanuska and the drainage ditch that goes to the Old Glenn Highway and will allow the waters of the Matanuska to flow into the most densely settled area of our community. (August 18-19, 2010 photos (c) by Christine and Clint Nelson.)
Lots of petition signatures were turned in to the Borough asking that bank protection measures would be initiated. Here are Clint and Christine Nelson’s letter and photos as submitted with the petition.

Useless correspondence - wasted time - in 2010 lead to our inquiry into a FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant. Working with both the Mat-Su Borough and the Alaska Disaster Office towards submitting  an application, we were told the sad truth that,  for various reasons, our “plugging the dike” project to avert erosion and flooding didn’t meet the grant’s perimeters.

Reaching-out-for-help correspondence in 2010 (in zip file).

In 2010, BARCO submitted recommendations to the Mat-Su Borough on adoption of the Matanuska River Plan, ...” to implement timely structural protection measures.....

“A 2010 rough estimate from Mat-Su Borough tax records showed building values in the area of active erosion and the areas of lower elevation of Butte (approx. those areas which were flooded in 1971 by the Matanuska breaching the levee)  was $143,000,000 not including the value of roads, power, natural gas and phone/cable utilities.....”

150 truck loads of rock were asked for in 2010 initially and another 150 loads for the following  years to repair and start maintaining the stability of the banks and the safety of Butte residents, until the State, Borough and Corps of Engineers would repair and maintain the protection system as recommended. 150 truck loads of locally available rock would have repaired a 20x20x150’ section of the dike that been eaten away by the Matanuska since 1985. until the Borough, State of Alaska and Federal authorities would get together and implement the recommendations of this 2003 report, published by the US Army Corps of Engineers:
1)  “Background Studies for Expedited Reconnaissance Study of Matanuska River Erosion August 2003.
2) Trip Report of October 2003 Bank Inspection.

Local Media covers the stories of the neglected dikes:



Here is a map of how much of its bank the Matanuska River had whitttled away over the years. The map also shows the location of the revetments and dikes.

BUTTE FLOOD MAPPING From Mat-Su Borough website. Includes most everything you may want to learn about local flooding issues, including elevation data, studies and reports and recommendations which were ultimately ignored.