Richard DeBolt

Richard DeBolt speaks at a meeting in Oct., 2014. He recently proposed a Chehalis River Basin flood reduction office under ecology.  

The Capital Budget Committee in Olympia will hold a public hearing today on a bill to create an office focused on reducing flooding risk in the Chehalis River Basin.

The office, which would be under the state Department of Ecology, would handle funds for long-term flood reduction and habitat restoration projects in the basin.

The hearing is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today in House Hearing Room B in the John L. O’Brien Building in Olympia.

Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, bill sponsor, said funds for basin projects will likely be approved all at once with many organizations competing for money. Having the office and guidelines in place will make the allocation process smoother, he said. 

The office will work with the Governor’s Work Group and won’t affect the Flood Authority, he said. It will allocate funding based on whatever projects are approved.

DeBolt said creating the office is something that needs to be done in preparation for a bill from the Washington Waters Task Force, which DeBolt co-chairs. The Task Force, created last session, is considering how to fund infrastructure for flood control, stormwater and water supply throughout the state.

DeBolt said more staff won’t need to be hired in Ecology if the bill passes. 

Chase Gallagher, spokesperson for Ecology’s Southwest region, said an Ecology official will be testifying in support of multi-benefit floodplain management. 

He said that having a specific location for floodplain management of the Chehalis Basin will likely help to bring focus to goals in the basin.

If created, the office would be modeled after the Office of Columbia River created in 2006.

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