Skip to main content

Lower White River Countyline Levee Setback Project

Lower White River Countyline Levee Setback Project

Floding White River overtopping its banks
The White River overtopping its old levee in October 2017.

Current Conditions

In October 2017, after a heavy rainstorm and with flows reaching 2000 cubic feet per second (CFS), the White River flows rejoined into its former floodplain at the Countyline project site. The overtopping occurred exactly where the Countyline project designers expected it to. The floodplain floodwaters are confined by a new levee that is set back from the river channel. Portions of the historical floodplain are now inundated, again, in keeping with project design.

Below is a flyover video taken on Oct. 23, 2017, showing the White River overtopping the excavated area of the old levee and flowing into the project area.


Significant flooding in January 2009 affected more than 100 residences and numerous businesses in the City of Pacific and temporarily closed Stewart Road E due to overtopping by floodwaters east of the 8th Street Bridge. This flooding was due in part to the ongoing sedimentation in the White River; because of its gradient change, the White River near Pacific has been gradually losing channel capacity over the last several years. The goal of the Countyline Levee Setback Project is to address this loss in channel capacity and reduce flood elevations in the City of Pacific by removing 4,500 linear feet of existing levee and reconnecting the river with 121 acres of off-channel aquatic habitat. The river has been isolated from its historical floodplain at Countyline for nearly a century. A new setback levee, 6,000 feet in length, has been built. The new levee is protected by a 5,780-foot wood structure called a bio-revetment and several engineered log jams. By giving the White River more room, the Countyline Levee Setback Project provides significant flood risk reduction benefits for more than 200 residential properties.

Project Status

The project was completed in the fall of 2017. It was built over two construction seasons (2016 and 2017). Staff are now monitoring the project to ensure the project is performing as designed. Construction during the summer of 2016 included clearing portions of the project area, grading the site and installing engineered log structures. During the 2017 season, a new setback levee was built, the bio-revetment was put in place, and the old levee was excavated in several locations so as to allow the water to overtop and flow into the off-channel during high-flow conditions.


Below is a video that was made in August 2017, during the second -- and final -- year of construction.

Other videos about the project:

  • A time-lapse video that shows the 2016 construction process
  • A flyover video right after the 2016 construction season
  • A video from a media event at the site on Oct. 3, 2017, announcing the project's completion.
  • A short video that shows the first breach of the excavated levee on Oct. 22, 2017

Project area

The Countyline reach of the Lower White River is bounded by the A Street and Burlington Northern-Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway bridges at the upstream end (River Mile 6.33 ) and the 8th Street Bridge at the downstream end (RM 5.00). The Countyline reach spans the King-Pierce County boundary.

Project elements

  • Acquire all at-risk and necessary properties required to construct the project.
  • Construct 6,000 lineal feet of new setback levee along the landward edge of a forested buffer to protect existing properties and structures.
  • Construct 5,780 lineal feet of bio-engineered bank revetment along the existing wetland edge to protect existing properties and structures.
  • Install engineered log structures in the existing wetland complex.
  • Remove approximately 4,500 lineal feet of levee and bank armoring.
  • Restore a forested riparian buffer (approximately 18 acres) adjacent to the wetland. 
Click the below image to enlarge the project's draft conceptual design.
White River Countyline project map

Project costs and sponsors

The total project cost is estimated to be $24 million.

  • $17.9 million - King County Flood Control District
  • $823,000 - State Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant
  • $500,000 - Pierce County funding
  • $4.8 million - Natural Resource Damage Assessment participants

The King County River and Floodplain Management Section is overseeing the design and construction of this project, which is being implemented on behalf of the King County Flood Control District (external link).

Click the below image to enlarge the project's draft conceptual design.

Project milestones: Updated November 2017

Completed environmental review process (SEPA) Oct. 2012
Completed 60 percent design plans May 2013
Completed property acquisitions June 2015
Completed final design March 2016
Community Open House, Pacific City Gym  May 3, 2016
Start construction  June 2016
Finish earthwork construction and begin project site revegetation       Fall 2017
Project completion Dec. 2017

Supporting documents

The project documents are available in Acrobat format.

SEPA documents

Project design documents

Monitoring Reports

Other information and external links

For more information about the White River, contact Jeanne Stypula, White River Basin Supervisor, King County River and Floodplain Management Section.