What's the purpose of a launching toe? Learn about projects that are restoring floodplains and estuaries in north Puget Sound for juvenile fish and improved flood control.
The multiple benefits of the Calistoga Project
Written by Bob Carey, Strategic Partnerships Director, Skagit River Program
Photographs by Parametrix
The benefit of restoring our floodplains is becoming more and more evident each day.
Much attention has been brought to the flood control benefits of the Calistoga Reach project. The project, which set levees back giving the Puyallup River more room to flow naturally, enabled the city of Orting to avoid a major flood last November and gave reason for the National Weather Service to more than double the flood warning levels for that area. It was a great win for the people of that community.
Now we’re also seeing proof of the very real environmental benefits also beginning to come to fruition.
The city of Orting’s top building official, Ken Wolfe, witnessed it firsthand seeing salmon returning as a result of the stream and floodplain reconnection work done in Orting. Giving rivers more room not only provides space for floodwaters to spread out and slow down, it provides space for side channels, wetlands and forests to form – and for salmon and other species to thrive.
Natural systems really are some of the most effective for clean water, preventing floods and protecting habitat. The more we can use natural systems, we can save money in the long-term, provide more clean water, fish and public safety.
Check out the Orting mayor’s opinion column on how it saved the city.
Fisher Slough & the Flood
The Skagit River crested at 31.5 feet on the river gauge in Mount Vernon on Saturday morning. This is the highest river we’ve seen since the Fisher Slough project was completed and the highest the Skagit River has been since 2006. That said, it’s nothing compared with the biggest floods seen on the Skagit in 1990, 1995, 1906, 1951 (all ~37 feet).
This is the first time the flood overflow structure has been been needed and its working beautifully! The flood storage area was approaching capacity and rather than overtopping our new levees, potentially damaging these levees, and sending the water to places we don’t’ want it to go, the water went over the emergency spillway made of rock built for these types of events.
This was inspirational. The structure was working beautifully, the levees were containing the flood waters and the there was no standing water on the adjacent farmland. The entire project was operating as expected. It was something to behold and evidence of the exceptional work of the project team and our partners!
This wouldn’t have been possible if not for the collaboration and trust from the local farming community, Dike Districts and partners such as WWAA and their inclusive, transparent knowledge into the design process!
Learn more about Floodplains by Design.