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Chehalis Basin Strategy

Chehalis Basin Work Group Recommendations Report

The Chehalis Basin Work Group has released its 2014 Recommendations Report (pdf), along with the Technical Reports referenced in the Work Group’s 2014 Recommendations Report.

Read the press release (pdf).

Read the endorsement (pdf) from Governor Jay Inslee.

Project Description

The Chehalis River Basin suffers from the dual problems of catastrophic flooding and significant degradation of aquatic species. For almost 100 years, there has been a failure to address these issues in any meaningful manner.

Peak flood levels have been rising in the Basin and are likely to get worse. The five largest floods in the Basin’s history have occurred during the past 30 years, causing disastrous damage to families, communities, and infrastructure. Aquatic species in the Chehalis Basin are also significantly degraded, and if action is not taken, this degradation is expected to continue. Salmon habitat in the Basin already is degraded by 44%–78%, depending on the species.

The Center’s involvement in the Chehalis Basin began in 2011 with an analysis of different flood-damage reduction alternatives. This was followed by the creation of the Governor’s Chehalis Basin Work Group in summer 2012, which was convened to inform the Governor’s recommendations for the 2013-15 biennial budget. A strategic framework containing the Work Group’s consensus recommendations was presented to the Governor in November 2012. Then-Governor Gregoire endorsed the group’s recommendations (as did current Governor Jay Inslee). In June 2013, the Legislature passed the 2013-15 biennium capital budget with $28.2 million to fund the Work Group’s recommendations.

Over the 2013-2015 biennium the Center has supported and managed process and facilitated in the involvement of the Governor’s Chehalis Basin Work Group, state agencies, the Chehalis River Basin Flood Authority, and a consultant team in an effort to determine how best to reduce flood damage and restore aquatic species in the Chehalis Basin. The Center has also organized and managed more than a dozen workshops and public meetings that have engaged local and tribal communities, business, recreation, and environmental groups throughout the Basin.

Based on the work completed over the 2013-2015 biennium, the Governor’s Chehalis Basin Work Group is recommending an integrated strategy of long-term flood-damage reduction and aquatic species restoration in the Chehalis Basin. This includes a formal and public evaluation through a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) of a comprehensive long-term set of actions to reduce flood damage and restore aquatic species in the Basin, including restoration of more than 100 miles of habitat for salmon and other species, a water retention structure in the upper Chehalis, local actions to manage floodplains, and smaller-scale projects to provide local flood damage reductions and aquatic species benefits. The Governor and state agencies have expressed support for the Work Group’s long-term recommendations.

The Work Group also recommended a suite of near-term actions now being considered by the legislature for inclusion in the 2015-2017 capital budget. The near-term actions necessary to move forward on the long-term recommendations, creation of a Basin-led governance structure, and investment in smaller projects to provide near-term reductions in flood damage and restoration for aquatic species.

Moving forward, the Center will continue to facilitate the Work Group, manage future technical analyses, and organize technical, policy, and public workshops.

For more information contact Project Manager Jim Kramer.

Visit the News/Media page for media coverage of this project.


Updated on July 7, 2015

A aerial photo of a flooded neightborhood

Documents and Resources

Visit the Chehalis Basin Strategy homepage.

Read the Chehalis Basin Work Group Recommendations Report (pdf) (1 MB)

Read the Technical Memos referenced in the Recommendations Report.

Read the January 2014 Chehalis Basin Strategy (pdf) (2 MBF)

View the November 13 policy workshop slide deck (pdf) (12 MB)

Read the Read the Chehalis Basin Strategy Overview for 2013-2015 (pdf) (437 KB)

Read the Chehalis River Basin Flood Damage Reduction 2013-2015 Capital Budget (pdf), approved by the Legislature in June 2013

Read the work group’s brief on the capital budget proposal (pdf) (279 KB)

Read the work group’s framework (pdf) (70.7 KB) or summary of their recommendations (pdf) (42.5 KB)

Read the Alternatives Report (pdf) (11.5 MB)

Read the Executive Summary of the Alternatives Report (pdf) (2 MB)

Read the Comments on the Draft Report (pdf) as of 9-25-12 (1.6 MB)

WSDOT Report: I-5 Protection Flood Report (pdf) (7 MB)