Chehalis Basin Strategy progress in review: Pump station paves way for economic revitalization, flood protection in Grays Harbor County


More than 140 local fish and flood projects have been completed across the Chehalis River Basin, coordinated and funded through the Office of Chehalis Basin (OCB).  

The OCB board is composed of local officials as well as tribal and environmental representatives. 

These projects are done in cooperation with the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority, local governments, tribes and the Aquatic Species Restoration team. Together, these projects are part of the Chehalis Basin Strategy to restore aquatic species and to reduce flood damage for families and communities.

This article is part of an ongoing series highlighting projects that have been completed in the basin. The Chronicle has partnered with the Office of Chehalis Basin for this series. Read previous installments at 



Pump stations provide an important infrastructure solution for communities facing chronic flooding. Offering major return on investment, long-standing flood protection and relatively quick construction time, pump stations are a key element of the Chehalis Basin Strategy’s suite of local flood projects implemented by the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority. 

The Ramer Street pump station project had two key aims:

• Discharge: Construct a new, more reliable pump station to discharge flood waters to a new, more reliable outfall into the Hoquiam River.

• Conveyance: Replace existing undersized utility pipelines in the Ramer Flood Basin to better convey flood waters as recommended by the City's Comprehensive Surface Water Management Plan.

The investment in a new pump station was not only a solution to chronic flooding, but also part of a larger community and economic revitalization strategy for the City of Hoquiam.


The problem

The majority of Hoquiam, including the neighborhood within the Ramer Pump Station, sits within the flood zone. Tidal flooding from the Hoquiam River has plagued residents in north Hoquiam for decades. 

This neighborhood has a high number of low-income families and individuals who are not only burdened with flooding, but are also required to purchase flood insurance as part of their home mortgage. Annually, this additional expense of flood insurance can cost anywhere from $800 through a private insurance company to upwards of $10,000 for a FEMA-backed policy. From an equity perspective, the requirement for flood insurance is generally placed on economically disadvantaged individuals who can’t afford a home outside of the flood zone, placing an unfair challenge on these homeowners. 


The Project

The purpose of the Ramer Street pump station project was to replace this key, aging pump station with a new, modernized version with better, more reliable pumping capacity, and to construct a new outfall into the Hoquiam River for the pump to discharge flood water. The project not only provides flood protection for approximately 200 homes, Lincoln Elementary School, a commercial yacht builder and 8 acres of prime development property, but also implements a key element of the city’s portion of the future North Shore Levee project.

The Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority, through the Office of Chehalis Basin, funded the Ramer Street pump station project as part of the Chehalis Basin Strategy.  

The Flood Authority’s investment in the Ramer Street pump station was not its only investment in pump stations. In 2018, the City of Chehalis completed a new pump station to replace the aged (and no longer properly functioning) Chehalis-Centralia Airport pump station. That project, funded by the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority via the Chehalis Basin Strategy, and has also performed very well. 

For the 2021 to 2023 and 2023 to 2025 state funding cycle, the Flood Authority has made significant investments in pump planning, purchasing and construction in the Lower Chehalis Basin. For example, the City of Hoquiam received key funding in the 2023-2025 budget to construct a badly needed new 10th Street pump station and to design, engineer and permit a new pump station to replace the city's existing Queen Avenue pump station.


The impact

The Ramer Street pump station project is a significant step along the way to economic revitalization for West Hoquiam.  

Since replacing the Ramer Street Pump Station, this entire neighborhood has not experienced any flooding from the Hoquiam River. During this time period, other neighborhoods where the pump stations and the flood levee need to be constructed have seen flooding on multiple occasions. In just a few years, when the North Shore Levee and the North Shore Levee West Segments are constructed and certified by FEMA, not only will these neighborhoods be protected from flooding, but they will no longer be required to purchase flood insurance for their mortgage. 

Additional requirements to maintain homes in the flood zone will also be eliminated, giving these disadvantaged homeowners the financial resources and other tools to maintain their homes and support their families. 

When the project was put to a major test during the Chehalis Basin’s most recent major flooding in January 2022, it performed flawlessly.

• It pumped water continuously for 30 hours (51,000,000 gallons of water)

• As a result, homes, businesses and important public and private facilities within the Ramer Street Basin stayed dry for the duration of the flooding event. (This was unfortunately not the case elsewhere in the city.)


Parting thoughts 

• “Without the generous support of the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority, West Hoquiam wouldn’t be where we are today ... flood ready, flood protected ... flood ready and flood secure communities are also economically viable and economically secure communities. The two-go hand-in-hand.” — Brian Shay, city administrator, City of Hoquiam 

• “Removing the barriers from flood impacts and flood insurance requirements significantly levels the environmental justice challenges facing our community compared to other parts of our state.” — Shay

• “Pump stations provide an important solution for communities with few options to evacuate flood waters. Pump stations, while significant infrastructure investments, have terrific return on investment, provide meaningful flood reduction for decades to come, and offer hope for communities on the frontlines of climate change.” — Scott Boettcher, staff, Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority 

Ramer Street pump station project by the numbers 

Cost: $1.3 million 

Start of construction: Oct. 26. 2016 

End of construction: April 24, 2018 

Days to complete: 544 

Value protected and return on investment: $14,119,806, orr 11 to 1 

Future damage avoided per event: $2,642,691, or 2 to 1