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Congress approves flood-project funds
Last Tuesday, Sept. 28, Congress approved a bill that will provide
funding for flood relief measures in the Snoqualmie Valley.
Titled the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill for fiscal year
2000, the legislation also allocates federal money for other projects in King
and Pierce Counties, including the Howard Hanson Dam
and ecosystem restoration work on the Green and
The bill authorizes $200,000 for flood studies in North Bend. It
states that over 300 homes and businesses in the community are prone to
flooding, adding "This funding will be used to evaluate options along the
South and Middle Forks of the Snoqualmie River which will provide much
needed flood relief."
The legislation included similar comments concerning
Snoqualmie, but a firm funding level is yet to be established. The bill indicated
there are 600 homes in the town of Snoqualmie that
are considered "flood prone," adding "This funding will
go toward channel improvements to the Snoqualmie River upstream
of Snoqualmie Falls, to protect the homes and businesses from future
floodwaters. The exact amount of funding will be determined by the Corps in the
According to Megan Frey, a staff member for Sen. Slade Gorton,
the amount for Snoqualmie should range between $770,000 and $1.2
million, pending a decision by the Corps of Engineers.
"The Senate authorized $770,000," she commented last
Tuesday. "The House authorized $1.9 million. The final amount will be a
In a written statement, Rep. Jennifer Dunn announced, "By
securing funds for flood control projects in North Bend and Snoqualmie
we can give homeowners and businesses peace of mind
from potential flood damage. We may not always be
able to prevent flooding, but we can and should take preventative actions
to protect lives and property."
Gorton made similar comments.
"In King and Pierce counties, there are critical salmon habitats and
ecosystems that will receive restoration funding through the Energy and
Water Appropriations Bill," he stated.
"This appropriations bill also contains funding for much needed
flood prevention in North Bend and Snoqualmie, protecting homes
and businesses from damaging flood waters. I applaud the
efforts of Congresswoman Dunn and will continue to work to improve the way of life in
the Pacific Northwest."
The Corp of Engineers' proposal for flood mitigation efforts in the
Valley was the subject of a public hearing in Snoqualmie on July 14. At
that time several citizens from the Lower Valley communities raised
questions and objections about the project.
Among other things, the Corps' draft proposal included provisions
for the widening of the Snoqualmie River just above the Falls, and removal
of the old Milwaukee Road-Northern Pacific connector bridge off
Railroad Ave. Notably, the Corps estimated a cost of $3 million for the
project, with a proposed start date of 2001.
Under the project proposal, the federal government would pay for
65 percent of the flood mitigation efforts, with the city picking up the rest of
The response from community members in Carnation and Duvall
was somewhat less than positive. Most expressed concern that
while Snoqualmie's flood level might go down, theirs would
undoubtedly go up. Tom Beam, senior engineer with the King County Water and Land
Resources Division, reported areas downstream should have "much
less" than six inches of additional
floodwater. The Corps concurred with his assessment, terming any increase
Additional discussion and planning will likely take place while
the Corps of Engineers determines how much it will need from Congress,
and how to best spend it. For both North Bend and Snoqualmie, some of the
allocations may take the form of similar earlier proposals for
low-interest loans for home elevation and development of an improved
In the interim, the intent will remain the same: to save Valley
communities an estimated $1.1 million in annual flood damage, while
reducing the flood crest.