(Washington, D.C.) Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included full funding for two critical Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects in the Centralia and the Chehalis River Basin area in the Fiscal 2009 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. The funding for these projects is part of an effort to avoid further flooding disasters like the one the area experienced last December. Senator Murray has funded the Centralia flood control project in previous years and worked to get the program authorized in the 2007 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The Chehalis River Basin was not funded last year and was not included in the President's budget. The funds Senator Murray has included represent the maximum funding that the Army Corps of Engineers can utilize for these projects in the upcoming Fiscal Year.
"In Centralia and the surrounding areas, families are still putting the pieces of their lives together after last year's devastating floods," said Senator Murray. "After touring the destruction and meeting with those affected, I made a promise to work in Congress to fund projects aimed at preventing similar disasters.
"Today's bill includes full funding for two Corps projects that are desperately needed to protect area residents. This is an important step in helping local officials decide which flood control approach they want to take. It is also a welcome development after the President ignored these critical projects in his yearly budget."
The December 2007 storms off the coast of Washington state and Oregon caused major flooding that overwhelmed the Chehalis River and the entire river basin. The flooding caused several fatalities, damaged homes, killed thousands of farm animals, destroyed local transportation infrastructure, and cost millions in debris cleanup. The flooding was bad enough to shut down I-5, the main North-South freeway from Washington to Southern California, for 4 days.
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray worked to include the funding for these projects in a very tight budget year. The funding passed the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee today and goes to the full Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday (7/10).
Centralia Project - $1.2 Million
This funding will keep the Centralia Flood control project on track by funding the next steps in the design phase of the project. This is a critical step since the analysis needs to be updated to reflect new information from the 2007 flooding. The project is currently about 35% designed. The President did not request any funding for this project.
Chehalis River Basin Flood Study - $1 Million
This funding will go to a study of the largest river basin in Washington state, will evaluate options for restoration of wetlands and riparian habitats and will provide flood risk management in a watershed that has been severely damaged by last year's flooding. The President did not request any funding for this project.