The total cost for improving river levees and other flood control structures in Pierce County is projected to reach more than $350 million over the next 20 years.
That’s according to a report the County Council adopted this week in a 5-2 vote.
The county plan, which took nearly four years to complete, examines flood risks and recommends solutions along the Puyallup, Nisqually, White and Carbon Rivers.
The report, called the Rivers Flood Hazard Management Plan, says today’s flood control structures are inadequate and put the public’s safety at risk.
Pierce County “faces significant challenges in the years ahead” regarding flood control, it says.
“The aging system of flood risk reduction facilities, many of which were built in the 1960s or earlier, were built to a lower level of protection than what is now required to protect transportation, commercial, and residential structures,” the report says.
Their failure, the document states, “could have significant and adverse impacts on public safety, public infrastructure, and private property along the rivers.”
The county report says current funds for flood control are “insufficient.”
Council members Dan Roach, R-Bonney Lake, and Jim McCune, R-Graham, voted against adopting the plan Tuesday. Roach and McCune said Wednesday they voted “no” because of federal and state regulations that make it impossible or almost impossible to obtain permits to dredge river systems for managing sediment and preventing flooding.
The report recommends new and rebuilt levees, new setbacks and new flood walls. The cost of 32 recommended projects ranges from $350.8 million to $396.4 million. The most expensive is $104 million to set back the levee along North Levee Road from Interstate 5 to the Highway 161-North Meridian Bridge in Puyallup.
Pierce County staff produced the report with help from consultants and the U.S. Geological Survey at a cost of about $900,000, said Anne-marie Marshall-Dody, a county planner.
One potential source of funding for some projects is this year’s new tax for the flood-control zone district. The tax of 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value will provide about $4.5 million a year for flood projects still to be determined by the district’s board of supervisors, comprised of the seven County Council members.
Board and council Chairwoman Joyce McDonald, R-Puyallup, said the supervisors will ask their advisory committee to use the county’s plan for recommending projects.
Federal matching funds could be added as a result of another study under way by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, focusing on flooding in the Puyallup River basin.Steve Maynard: 253-597-8647 steve.maynard@ thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/street @TNTstevemaynard