Members of the Washington state Congressional delegation sent a bipartisan letter requesting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continue its commitment to the Puyallup River General Investigations Study to determine flood control measures that can be taken to help protect the residents and livelihoods of the region. The letter, sent October 7, was signed by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA-09), Norm Dicks (D-WA-06) and Dave Reichert (R-WA-08).
"The need for flood control improvements along the Puyallup River remains an issue of regional significance in Pierce and King Counties," Cantwell, Smith, Dicks, and Reichert wrote in the letter. "Homes, businesses, regional transportation systems, and the vital Port of Tacoma are potentially in danger of a serious flooding event. The economic and national security impacts from a prolonged closure of Interstate 5 and/or State Route 167 would be staggering. Adequate measures must be taken to ensure the safety and protection of people and property up and down this important flood plain. While we understand the difficulties of our fiscal environment, we are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue to support funding for this critical project."
Specifically, the Congressional members asked that the Corps include enough funding in its fiscal year 2012 budget to maintain the General Investigations Study, and for the Study to be included in the President's budget for fiscal year 2013. The six-year study would address what measures are needed to boost flood control and protection for communities along the Puyallup River.
In 2007, Pierce County, the Washington State Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and impacted municipalities formed the Puyallup River Executive Task Force. It was created in response to the catastrophic 2006 Puyallup River flood, which placed thousands of lives at risk and caused millions of dollars in damages to homes and businesses. The rising water also caused Interstate 5, the major north-south traffic corridor for the West Coast, to shut down.
The Task Force continues to work with the Corps to come up with long-term solutions to flooding that endangers citizens and property in the region. The General Investigations Study was started by the Corps to support the Task Force and19 separate local entities have committed to provide the $500,000 in annual matching funds.