The Gunter Levee is located in the City of Tukwila along the west left bank of the Green River when looking downstream and reduces flood risks to commercial areas of Tukwila.
The Gunter Levee project will evaluate current conditions between river miles 15.9 and 16.8 and design a plan to reconstruct and improve the flood facility. Recent studies found that the riverbank in this area is too steep and could be at risk of failing in the future. The new flood facility will be taller to contain larger floods and wider to allow for a gentler slope. The project plan will also consider other ways to improve habitat and recreational opportunities in the area.
King County, as the primary service provider to the King County Flood Control District, is currently working on planning and technical studies, and final design of the new flood facility is anticipated in 2023, pending right of way negotiations. Construction is expected to start in 2027.
Reconstruction of the levee is important for reducing the potential of catastrophic flood emergencies and earning levee recertification from FEMA, which can influence future development opportunities in this commercial setting.
What is a levee?
A levee is a raised structure built along a riverbank to contain, control, or divert the flow of water and protect the land along the river from temporary flooding. A levee is usually made of earth and runs parallel to the course of a river. Levees can occur naturally when rivers deposit sediments along the bank following times of high river flows or they can be constructed by people.
The original levees along the Green were likely a combination of both. Many of the levees along the Green were first constructed when farmers removed sediments from the river and piled them along the banks to help prevent flooding of their farmland. Over time rock was added to keep the levees in place and more material was added to the top of the levee.
The levees along the Lower Green River were not originally intended to protect homes and businesses and often require repairs and improvements to reduce the risks of flooding.