After key meetings today in Washington, D.C., state and King County leaders came away optimistic that federal officials understand the urgency of securing funding for interim and permanent repairs at the damaged Howard Hanson Dam.
StoryAfter key meetings today in Washington, D.C., state and King County leaders came away optimistic that federal officials understand the urgency of securing funding for interim and permanent repairs at the damaged Howard Hanson Dam.
Governor Chris Gregoire and King County Executive Dow Constantine said they believe the united effort by the state’s Congressional delegation and state and local leaders helped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), FEMA and White House officials appreciate the enormity of the situation. They said the group successfully conveyed the message that people, businesses and the region’s economy are living under a serious Green River Valley flood threat that could be significantly reduced with expedited design and funding for repairs to the federal dam.
“I thank Senator Patty Murray for coordinating this meeting with the Administration and our Congressional delegation. We discussed serious concerns, and I’m pleased our federal leaders are committed to finding interim and permanent solutions,” Gregoire said. “During these difficult economic times, our small business owners face enough risks. We need to provide them with the peace of mind that flood waters won’t destroy their livelihoods. And we need to provide citizens and communities with assurance that their lives and property are protected.”
“I want to thank our Congressional delegation and Senator Murray, who has been a champion for moving forward, for hosting a productive meeting with all the key players on this urgent issue,” said Executive Constantine. “We are committed to working at all levels of government to protect Green River communities because a flood event would be catastrophic, not only for King County and the region; it would also have national impact.”
Governor Gregoire and Executive Constantine were joined County Councilmembers Julia Patterson and Pete von Reichbauer, as well as Green River Valley mayors and business leaders. Along with Senator Murray, members of the Congressional delegation in attendance included U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, and U.S. representatives Dave Reichert, Norm Dicks, Adam Smith and Jay Inslee.
“After a very constructive meeting today, I feel confident that we are one step closer to finding a solution to protecting the people, property and the vitality of the Green River Valley,” said King County Councilmember Julia Patterson, who represents three cities in the Green River Valley and is also Chair of the King County Flood Control District. “Government leaders, including myself and my colleagues, still have work to do, and we must be vigilant in securing funding for the federally-owned Howard Hanson Dam for this coming flood season and each one thereafter.”
“Today is an example of the necessary dialogue that must continue between all levels of government to protect the Green River Valley region from future floods,” said Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer, whose district includes the City of Auburn in the Green River Valley. “Coordinated partnerships will assure the residents and businesses of the region that every effort is being made to construct a permanent solution to this problem.”
The Corps manages the dam and has been working to repair damage that occurred to an abutment after major storms brought record high water in January 2009. The damage prevents the flood control dam from operating at full capacity during high water.
In March, the Corps proposed interim grout work that would significantly reduce the flood risk to near pre-damage levels. Funding for the interim measure, estimated at $44 million, has not yet been secured. Funding for a permanent fix, which the Corps estimates is at least five years away, also must still be secured.
- Learn more about flood preparations in the Green River Valley
- More details and history about Howard Hanson Dam