As Pe Ell Dike Improvements Begin, Twenty-Two Flood Mitigation Projects Progressing in Chehalis River Basin


While major flood solutions are still being sought by regional officials, smaller flood projects around the Chehalis River Basin, including in Lewis County, are continuing to move forward. 

Currently, 22 flood prevention projects are underway throughout the Chehalis Basin.

In Lewis County, work will start next month on the Pe Ell wastewater treatment plant flood prevention dike and resume on the Airport Levee project near the Chehalis-Centralia Airport.

The Bucoda Levee Project, which will protect the town’s wellhead, was completed this week, coming under budget by about $38,000.


The Pe Ell Town Council recently awarded a construction contract to Justice Trucking and Backhoe Services, Randle, to complete the flood prevention dike.

The project will design and construct about 900 feet of dike along the northwest side of the town’s wastewater treatment plant to protect it from flood events, according to the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority. The cost of construction is about $465,900. The project is funded by state money awarded to the Flood Authority. 

The top of the dike will have an elevation of about 365 feet, nearly 2 feet higher than the water level reached in the 2007 Flood, according to the Flood Authority. 

“The project will be completed in late August or early September in time for the upcoming flood season,” Scott Boettcher, Flood Authority staff, said. 

The Airport Levee Project, which is already about 80 percent complete, will resume in July when conditions are drier and warmer for the moisture-sensitive fill dirt. 

Lewis County, the lead on the levee project, will add the remaining fill dirt to widen the base and add gravel to the top of the levee. 

The $1.2 million project will widen the entire levee, protecting the airport, Interstate 5 and the complex of retail stores that generate about $550,000 of income per day, according to Lewis County. 

“The county is waiting for things to dry out and to ensure a stretch of warm weather,” Boettcher said. 

The Washington State Department of Transportation has agreed to finish the final portion of the project between I-5 and Airport Road. No timeline has been set on work for the final phase. 


Along with the Airport Levee Project, WSDOT is developing its own potential projects to protect I-5 in Lewis County. WSDOT is exploring options that include building walls and levees around I-5 between the Twin Cities. 

Meanwhile, the Flood Authority and the Governor’s Chehalis Basin Work Group are researching 11 more local projects within the basin. 

Of the 11 projects, five would be in the same location as WSDOT’s I-5 projection work. 

Officials met last week to discuss the potential overlap of work around I-5 in Lewis County. 

“What we were concerned about was what if we spend $300,000 on a local project and DOT comes along a year later and does their alternative and protects the area we just protected,” Boettcher said. “We don’t want to make an investment and have WSDOT negate it.”

The five proposed projects include the Kirkland Road flooding project in Napavine, the state Route 6 overflow project and the Salzer Creek project in Lewis County and the Dillenbaugh Creek realignment project and Main Street regrade project in Chehalis. 

Boettcher said WSDOT and the Flood Authority need to have a work plan in place by this fall, when the Flood Authority makes its recommendations to the state Legislature about funding the 11 proposed projects. 

“We hate to recommend projects that in the end may be for not,” Boettcher said. "We don’t want to spend a lot of money for something that will have little benefit.”