Letter to the Editor: Proper Defense Against Flooding Is Preparation, Not a Dam

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With the abundance of articles, letters and opinions promoting the dam on the upper Chehalis River in the last month, I want to express a different point of view. 

What the aforementioned do not tell you about is the major discrepancies with the dam. Should the major rain event occur above the dam site and if the run-of-the-river dam were closed for any reason and say the reservoir was 25% full, then the dam would only be 75% effective; 50% full then 50% effective. 

If the major rain event occurs below the dam site, then the dam would not be worth one. Look at the NOAA river predictions website and see that none of the top 10 floods for the Upper Chehalis, Newaukum and Skookumchuck Rivers match. This means that the major rain events are scattered throughout this region as verified by a Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority study. Just look at what happened twice in January with the Newaukum and Skookumchuck rivers. I have lived by, on, and in the Newaukum River since February 1989. The river has flooded every year from one to four times except 2018. Preparation for flooding is the key, which did not happen during the 2007 major rain anomaly event. The enormous amount of money to be spent on something that may or may not be effective is questionable. Also not disclosed in the newspaper is that the chosen run-of-the- river dam design is a hybrid. It was added to the two existing designs just before Governor Gregoire’s Work Group was disbanded and the Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District jumped on it like stink on poop. It has a base that can be added onto at a later date to form a dam with a permanent reservoir, and do you think hydro power generation would be far behind? The effectiveness for flood control would also be heavily compromised.  Why spend extra money on a design that may not be utilized and the addition probably not funded. The last thing to mention is property taxes. So far, the funding for the Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District has been from the state. Maintenance for the dam and any addition to it would possibly have to be from a levy they have already been authorized to make, and it would be added to your property taxes no matter where you lived in the Zone District. I would rather be by, on, and in the Newaukum River.

 

Michael L. Smell

Chehalis

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