New Levee Will Protect People, Help Salmon
Orting project will create 100 acres of flood storage, habitat
Orting, WA | December 18, 2013
Construction begins Thursday on a $16 million project that will reduce the risk of floods throughout the Puyallup River valley, create new habitat for salmon and produce more than 230 local jobs.
Federal, state and local leaders will gather for a groundbreaking ceremony at Calistoga Park in Orting, where a 1 ½-mile “setback levee” will be built along the Puyallup River. The city has purchased all of the required property along the river and the Orting school District donated 50 acres to enable construction of this state-of-the-art levee.
The current levees, built in the 1930s and 1960s, constricted the Puyallup River to a narrow channel – creating little leeway for floodwaters and eliminating important salmon habitat. As a result, the levee regularly overflows, sending floodwaters into the surrounding community. Orting, which sits between the Puyallup and Carbon rivers, suffered major flooding in 1996, 2006 and 2009.
This project will add about 100 acres of floodwater storage and salmon habitat. The project will also benefit the community by upgrading the stormwater system and creating public access and education along the river.
“The restored floodplain will not only reduce the risk of flooding for Orting, but also for all the communities downriver, including Sumner, Puyallup, Fife and the Port of Tacoma,” said Orting Mayor Cheryl Temple. “I’m so proud of my city and staff for pursuing and implementing this project.”
“The Calistoga Levee is an important piece of Pierce County’s long-range plan to improve public safety and enhance the quality of life here,” said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy.
“This is a far-sighted, innovative approach to flooding,” said Michael Stevens, Washington State Director for The Nature Conservancy. “By incorporating natural habitat into our built infrastructure, this project will help to provide clean water, more salmon and a more livable community. Rep. Hans Dunshee, chair of the Washington House Capital Budget Committee, showed real leadership in championing this coordinated approach.”
Residents of Orting contributed $2 million in funding to the project through their city stormwater fees. Because of the benefits provided by giving the river more room, the City was able to leverage its ratepayers’ funding and secure the lion’s share of funding from outside sources.
The Pierce County Flood Control Zone District is providing $8.5 million to the project – the largest amount it has funded. “We’re making efficient use of public funding by investing in this project that will benefit the entire region,” said Joyce McDonald, the district’s chair.
The final share of funding was secured when the project received $5.7 million in funding from the Washington Legislature through the Coordinated Investment for Puget Sound Floodplains Initiative sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. The Coordinated Investment Initiative was designed to leverage funding for projects that combine flood protection, habitat restoration and other objectives into their project designs, thereby making efficient use of public funding and providing greater benefits to the community.
Additional grants came from the Washington Department of Ecology and Washington Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.