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Chehalis Basin Strategy

The Chehalis Basin Strategy has two overarching goals: Reduce flood-related damages while restoring aquatic species habitat in the state's second largest river system.

The roots of the strategy go back several years. Under the Governor’s direction in 2014, a specially-convened Chehalis Basin Work Group recommended a path forward to:
  • Reduce flood damages and restore aquatic species habitat in the near-term. 
  • Consider long-term, large-scale strategies to reduce flood damage while improving aquatic habitat. 
As a non-voting member, we helped develop and review technical studies to support decisions. Most importantly, the work group helped form the Chehalis Basin Strategy. In December 2016, the work group:
  •  Recommended a 2017-19 work plan and budget.
  • Advocated funding important near-term early action projects to improve habitat and reduce flood damage in the basin.  

Environmental assessment examines potential strategy actions

To support the work group’s recommendations, we prepared a programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in June 2017 to assess the effectiveness of four potential actions to reduce flood damages and restore aquatic habitat in the basin.
Each alternative — including a “no action” alternative — we assessed included a unique suite of actions, characterized by different combinations of small, localized actions as well as broader, basin-wide actions. Some actions included whether and where to construct new dams and levees to improve existing flood protection infrastructure as well as the best approaches for restoring aquatic habitat. . 

Inaction too hefty a price

Not taking action in the basin could cost Washington as much as $3.5 billion during the next 100 years due to flood-related losses such as:
  • Repairing or replacing damaged homes, businesses, and public infrastructure.
  • Disruptions to local community, economic, and agricultural activities.
  • Interruptions to state road and rail transportation corridors.
  • Continued aquatic habitat degradation and loss.