USACE, Ecology: Chehalis River Plans on the Table

To reduce flood risks in the state’s second-largest river system, the Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District is proposing to construct a new floodwater retention structure on the Chehalis River near the town of Pe Ell in Lewis County. 

The district also is seeking to raise the current levee at the Chehalis-Centralia Airport, including elevating part of Airport Road and making other improvements.

Since the proposal is likely to adversely affect the environment, the Washington Department of Ecology and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) are seeking public comment to help the agencies define what should be studied in the environmental review for the proposed flood-damage reduction project.

Under the proposal, the Chehalis River would flow normally through the structure except during major floods, when the facility could be operated to hold up to 65,000 acre feet of floodwaters in a temporary reservoir. The water would be released back to the river system as soon as it was safe to do so.

The two agencies are leading separate environmental reviews of the district’s proposal but are holding a joint scoping period to make it easier for the public to submit comments. The agencies have established a project website with information about the scoping process, public meetings, how to submit comments, and other information about the environmental review process.

Ecology is using the State Environmental Policy Act to evaluate the proposal while the USACE is conducting its environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Each agency will develop a separate environmental impact statement (EIS) to assess the project.

In mid-October, USACE and Ecology will conduct two open house-style public meetings to gather comments:

  • Montesano: Oct. 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Montesano City Hall, 112 N. Main St.;
  • Centralia: Oct. 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Centralia College, Bowman Rotary Banquet Rooms, 600 Centralia College Boulevard.

Both agencies will accept public comments through October 29.


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