Chehalis River Dam

Artist rendering of Flood District's proposed flood retention dam on Chehalis River.

The Chehalis Basin Board plans to discuss recent directives by Gov. Jay Inslee pausing work on the Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed flood control dam on the Chehalis River upstream from Pe Ell at a meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 6.

The meeting will be held virtually at https://rossstrategic.zoom.us/j/98256712239 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Alternately, the call-in number is 1-888-788-0099, passcode 982-5671-2239#. 

In two letters sent last week, Inslee directed the state departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife to pause work on the EIS on the dam through the end of the year, and asked the Chehalis Basin Board to come up with a “consensus” plan on a basin-wide alternative to the dam by September. 

The governor’s directive came after the draft EIS showed that the dam could prevent or lessen flooding to more than 1,000 properties in Centralia, but that it would likely have negative effects on salmon species. 

During a public comment period on the draft EIS, members of the public throughout Washington expressed concern about the health of salmon species and the Orcas that feed on them, and also were skeptical that the dam would have an effect on flooding outside the Chehalis and Centralia area, or that it would work at all if flooding did not occur as it did in the 2007 flood. 

Both the Chehalis Tribe and the Quinault Indian Nation have opposed the dam based on the draft EIS. Both tribes criticized a lack of a credible basin-wide alternative to the dam. 

“I have requested that the Chehalis Basin Board provide recommendations on the process for addressing some of these concerns, particularly the development of a basin-wide, non-dam alternative to flood damage reduction and evaluating the potential to avoid, minimize, and mitigate the impacts of the flood retention and other flood risk reduction projects,” Inslee wrote.

The board has been instructed to continue developing mitigation strategies for the concerns outlined in the EIS. 

The discussion on the governor’s letter is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. Aug. 6. 

Other topics up for discussion include Community Flood Assistance and Resilience planning local flood damage reduction projects, the Aquatic Species Restoration Plan. 

More information is available at ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Shoreline-coastal- management/Hazards/Floods-floodplain-planning/Chehalis-Basin-Strategy.

For more information on the chehalis Basin Board, go to https://ecology.wa.gov/About-us/Get-to-know-us/Our-Programs/Office-of-Chehalis-Basin.

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