Patty in the News

The U.S. Senate on Friday approved a $44 million emergency appropriation for interim repairs to the damaged Howard Hanson Dam that protects Kent, Renton and Auburn from flooding.

The bill, which must be passed by the House of Representatives, would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to make further interim improvements to reduce the likelihood of flooding on the Green River before permanent repairs to the dam's right embankment can be made.

"This is an investment in the safety of homes and businesses in one of the most economically vital regions of our state — the Green River Valley," Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. "I've worked hard to secure the funding for the Corps to conduct critical repairs because a flood in the valley would have devastating impacts that would ripple throughout Washington state."

Murray, who is running for re-election this year, hosted a meeting in May in Washington, D.C., in which Gov. Chris Gregoire and representatives of King County, businesses and cities along the Green River discussed the situation with federal officials.

The Corps, which owns and operates the earthen dam, has restricted the amount of water it will hold since engineers discovered after severe storms in January 2009 that water was seeping through an embankment in ways that suggested it had been weakened.

Emergency repairs were made to the embankment last year, and levees along the river were temporarily raised to reduce the chance of flooding in the event that heavy rains required the Corps to release more water from the dam.

There were no severe storms and no major flooding on the river last winter.

- The Seattle Times