Lawmakers push for Cowlitz River sediment monitoring

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have urged the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the United States Department of the Army to include funding in the fiscal year 2022 budget for sediment monitoring activities for the Mount St. Helens Sediment Control account.

Yearly sediment monitoring work is necessary to ensure Cowlitz County communities are protected from severe flooding events resulting from the buildup of volcanic sediment from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

Despite the need for annual work, federal funding for the program has been inconsistent, forcing local communities to put up their own money for a federal responsibility.

In the letter, the lawmakers stress the importance of funding the sediment management plan in fiscal year 2022, which will provide security for communities who are at risk for dangerous and devastating floods.

“Neglecting to address the risk to impacted communities not only threatens them with the uncertainty of flooding but also the peace of mind that the monitoring can provide. We request that OMB and USACE honor congressional intent and provide the requisite funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget for the USACE to conduct the necessary sediment monitoring activities,” the lawmakers wrote.

The agreement notes that Mount St. Helens Sediment Monitoring activities have not been funded in the Corps work plan for the sixth consecutive year.

Yearly monitoring is vital to ensure that the sediment retention structure can properly protect the communities in Cowlitz County, Washington, the lawmakers concluded.

Photo: USACE