(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she will be hosting a major meeting of state and federal officials tomorrow, May 6, 2010, to push for expedited design and funding for interim and permanent repairs to the federal Howard Hanson Dam that would significantly reduce the threat of flooding to the Green River Valley. 

Senator Murray is bringing together members of the Washington state delegation, Governor Gregoire, local officials, and members of the local business community to meet with leaders of the Army Corps of Engineers and FEMA to share the economic impact of the vulnerability of Howard Hanson Dam and to discuss related issues. Senator Murray has also secured a meeting for the Washington state officials with key White House advisor Valerie Jarrett to discuss the issue.

“Families and small business owners in the Green River Valley are depending on us to find a way to get together to fix the Howard Hanson Dam,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I asked everyone to come to D.C to sit down and have a wide-ranging conversation about the challenges we face and the quick action needed protect Green River communities.”

The Army Corps manages the dam and has been working to repair damage that occurred to an abutment to the dam in January 2009, which prevents the dam from operating at full capacity in the event of a storm.

In March, the Corps proposed undertaking interim grout work to the dam that would reduce the flood risk from 1 in 25 to historic levels of 1 in 140 while a permanent repair could be designed and constructed.  The interim measure would cost $44 million, funding for which has not yet been secured. 

“We need to ensure that we are taking every measure possible to protect people’s lives, their property and their place of business,” Governor Gregoire said. “Our communities and our economy depend on that. I continue to make the case to our Congressional delegation that we can’t delay—we need appropriate funding now to complete interim and permanent repairs to the Howard Hanson Dam. I thank our Congressional delegation, especially Senator Patty Murray for inviting us here to listen to our concerns.”

“Time is of the essence,” said Executive Dow Constantine. “Funding for an interim repair will reduce the threat now hanging over residents and businesses of the Green River Valley and return this federally-owned dam, at least temporarily, back to the capacity it had before it was damaged.  At the same time, we urge President Obama to include funding for a permanent fix in the 2012 federal budget.”

“The threat of flooding in the valley has already created uncertainty and fear for residents, cost millions of dollars in emergency management preparations and hindered economic growth in the region,” said King County Councilmember Julia Patterson, who represents three cities in the Green River Valley and is also Chair of the King County Flood Control District. “Reducing this risk requires our federal representatives to find funding for interim repairs to the dam as we prepare for another flood season that is quickly approaching. In turn, long-term protection for the safety and vitality of the region will depend on the federal government’s ability to expedite the completion of the remaining repairs.”

Also attending Senator Murray’s meeting from Washington state are Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke, Auburn Mayor Pete Lewis, Renton Mayor Denis Law, Tukwila Mayor Jim Haggerton, and representatives of Boeing, Puget Sound Energy, Puget Sound Blood Center, and valley property owners.