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City Of Pacific Could Be Spared Frequent Floods By Levee Project

Lui Kit Wong
AP File Photo/The News Tribune
Valley Regional Fire Authority personnel rescue a couple from their flooded home at White River Estates, in Pacific, on Jan. 9, 2009.

Officials hope changes they have unveiled to the White River will help control flooding.

The King Flood Control District marked the completion of a big levee project this week in the city of Pacific. They hope to save nearby property by letting the river spread out a little.

In January 2009, the White River overflowed its bank, and residents in nearby Pacific paid the price. They waded down the streets, watching the water flow down driveways, creep up foundations, and inundate cars.

To prevent something like this from happening again, or at least from happening very often, officials decided to reconnect the nearby White River with its old floodplain.

“It gives a whole lot more storage for water,” said Reagan Dunn, chair of the board for the Flood Control District. He’s also vice chair of the King County Council. “So when the flood comes, the White River swells, all of the marshland now becomes a holding pond or holding basin for flood waters.”

That essentially gives the river some place to go that isn’t a neighborhood.

Work began last summer and completed this week. It took two summers because crews had to work around salmon and operate in a narrow span of time known as the “fish window.”

“We’re not allowed to get in there during spawning periods, you might imagine,” Dunn said.

The project also includes a nature trail for the public and habitat for fish and birds. Dunn says the project was on time and under its $24 million budget.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.