Flood Authority Endorses Dam As Part of Chehalis Basin Strategy


The Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority issued a statement this week endorsing the proposed flood-retention dam near Pe Ell as a part of a basin-wide solution to catastrophic flooding.

The Flood Authority, made up of representatives from Lewis County, Grays Harbor County, Thurston County, Centralia, Chehalis, Napavine, Pe Ell, Aberdeen, Cosmopolis, Hoquiam, Montesano, Oakville and Bucoda, voted to endorse the proposed dam at its April 16th meeting. 

“The Flood Authority’s action was prompted by the Washington State Department of Ecology’s call for comments on their recently released draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) addressing the Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District’s proposed ‘Chehalis River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Project,’ ” according to a news release from the Flood Authority. 

The Quinault Indian Nation recently announced their opposition to the project, based on the information presented in the draft EIS. 

The EIS concludes that the dam would harm salmon and steelhead populations and reduce water quality and recreation opportunities, and that mitigation for that damage would be required if the project were to go forward. 

The EIS did not take into account any other parts of the Chehalis Basin Strategy, such as the aquatic species plan, but only considered the dam itself. 

As proposed, the dam would only retain water during a flood event, and is projected to prevent flooding at more than 1,200 properties. 

“In the past we separately studied and studied solutions for flooding. We also separately studied and studied solutions for fish. We didn’t get the results our citizens and communities want,” said Lewis County Commissioner Edna Fund, who serves on the Flood Authority board. “Today, with this process (the Chehalis Basin process), we are all at the table and achieving more for flooding and fisheries than ever before.” 

The Flood Authority noted that Ecology’s programmatic EIS of the entire Chehalis Basin Strategy, which includes the dam, “showed that water retention at the top of the river, along with local flood management measures downstream, and construction of the Aberdeen-Hoquiam North Shore Levee, would together comprise the best basin-wide flood protection for communities and families.  The PEIS also showed that these measures to protect communities and livelihoods could be implemented in parallel with an aggressive aquatic species restoration plan to result in a net positive benefit of both a more vibrant fishery and flood protection for families and communities.”