Legislature funds innovative Floodplains by Design program

OLYMPIA, WA – Last week state legislators awarded $35.5 million dollars to the Floodplains by Design grant program in the capital budget paving the way for seven multiple benefit projects across the state to move forward.

Floodplains by Design, administered by the Department of Ecology, supports collaborative floodplain management efforts that combine flood risk reduction, habitat protection, agricultural preservation and recreational access. Projects funded by the program emphasize multiple benefits to maximize effectiveness and ensure tax dollars are well spent.

Legislators approved $33 million for Floodplains by Design in the last biennium, funding projects that supported over 750 jobs in nine locations, restored natural salmon habitats, and protected homes worth over $115 million. The newly approved funding is a testament to the success and growth of the program.

“As flood risk and clean water needs continue to grow while public dollars become more limited, it is critical that we coordinate our investments to maximize outcomes per dollar spent,” said The Nature Conservancy’s Washington State Director Mike Stevens. “The multiple benefits approach of Floodplains by Design is a model for how our state can tackle our greatest challenges.”

“We’re gratified that the Legislature has recognized the value of the proactive approach of the Floodplains by Design program. Our collaborative Puyallup basin project will reconnect the Puyallup River floodplains and will dramatically reduce the risk of flooding to communities from Alderton to Tacoma, while enhancing salmon habitat and protecting farmlands,” said Hans Hunger, Capital Projects Manager with Pierce County. “We appreciate the support for this project, and hope by the demonstrated benefits it brings many more communities will be able to follow its example of working with rivers rather than against them.”

Washington’s floodplains contain billions of dollars in property and infrastructure, and are home to Washington’s richest farmland and signature salmon runs. Studies show that for every $1 spent on flood risk reduction saves $4 in flood damages. As Washington’s communities continue to grow, it is essential to keep floodplain management at the same pace. Flooding is becoming more frequent, severe and costly, which poses a serious threat to Washington’s communities and businesses.

The funding for Floodplains by Design approved today will allow communities across the state to properly manage their floodplains and the benefits they provide

What is Floodplains by Design?

Floodplains by Design is an ambitious public-private partnership working to reduce flood risks and restore habitat, while also supporting other floodplain priorities such as clean water, agriculture and recreation, along Washington’s major river corridors. Because Floodplains by Design projects are built collaboratively from the ground up and serve diverse interests, they enjoy broad support and deliver multiple benefits. For more information visit www.floodplainsbydesign.org

Tom Bugert
The Nature Conservancy
(509) 885-6991