The Chehalis Basin Board voted on Aug. 16 to approve a two-year spending plan totaling $70 million for its basinwide strategy.
The plan lays out a number of actions to reduce flood damage and restore aquatic habitat throughout the basin in southwest Washington, according to a press release from the Washington State Department of Ecology.
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The flood-prone basin is home to a number of cities and towns that flood regularly, including the twin cities of Centralia and Chehalis along the I-5 corridor.
Gov. Jay Inslee said the following in the press release:
“The Chehalis Basin is an important place — home to distinct communities, vital commercial and tribal fishing and shellfishing industries, productive timberlands, significant agricultural production, and the I-5 key commercial corridor. Meeting the twin goals of reducing flood damage and restoring aquatic species is vital to the Basin’s future. I appreciate the hard work of the board to create a shared path forward. The Chehalis Basin Strategy is a priority for Washington State, and I am deeply invested in its continued success.”
Some funding highlights include the following:
- $11.8 million for local flood damage reduction efforts, including support for landowners trying to flood-proof, elevate or relocate their homes.
- $10.5 million to continue analyzing a proposed flood retention dam near Pe Ell, and Chehalis-Centralia Airport levee improvements.
- $22.3 million for aquatic species restoration plan to protect more than 550 miles of aquatic habitat.
- $4.4 million for projects that meet flood damage reduction and aquatic species habitat goals.
- $17.6 million for additional aquatic species and flood damage reduction priorities to be determined by the board in 2022.
It’s a significant chunk of money for the region. While Washington State has made headlines for its wildfires in recent years, southwest portions of the state have struggled with frequent and sometimes devastating floods.
The state has for years been working to find solutions to the flooding, and opinion has at times been split on how to proceed between those in the lower basin near Centralia, and those in the upper basin near Aberdeen.
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