Project manager Doug Beagle stands next to recently installed hescoes meant for flood protection from the White River in Sumner. Joshua Bessex jbessex@gateline.com
Project manager Doug Beagle stands next to recently installed hescoes meant for flood protection from the White River in Sumner. Joshua Bessex jbessex@gateline.com

Puyallup: Sumner

$1 million awarded to help fund White River levees in Sumner

By Allison Needles

aneedles@puyallupherald.com

November 16, 2017 03:07 PM

The flooding season in Sumner started with a weekend of heavy rainfall last month that put Sumner officials on high alert.

Heavy rainfall is all it takes to cause concern for flooding on the Puyallup and White rivers — a common occurrence that wouldn’t have been so dire 10 years ago. White River has slowly filled from sediment carried down from the mountains, making it more prone to flooding every year.

Last February, the city’s public works crew installed Hesco bastions — cages lined with cloth and filled with sand — along the banks of White River just south of Stewart Road as a temporary preventative measure. They’re still in place, but long-term solutions are still needed.

Last month, the city was awarded funds totaling $1 million by the Pierce County Flood Control Zone District (FCZD) for flood prevention in Sumner. Sumner has been active participant on FCZD’s advisory committee.

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Last month, the city was awarded funds totaling $1 million by the Pierce County Flood Control Zone District (FCZD) for flood prevention in Sumner.

“Sumner began making a lot of presentations to the advisory committee and board of supervisors to make us more aware of the risks that were happening in Sumner,” FCZD executive director Kjristine Lund said.

FCZD put together a budget proposal that provides the city with $1 million over the course of two years for the White River 24th Street Setback Project, which would install a levee on the lower east side of the river. Most of the funding will go toward design of the project, Lund said.

The project would increase the area available for river channel migration so that during the flooding season, water will have a place to go on the river’s east side, said Sumner Public Works Director Mike Dahlem.

“(It) will allow the river to move to that one side, which will give it more capacity,” Dahlem said.

This way, there’s less chance of the river flooding Sumner’s industrial park. Reconnecting the river to the floodplain will also create natural salmon habitat.

The Sumner industrial area is now Pierce County’s largest industrial employment center with nearly 11,500 workers employed there. This project will help protect the manufacturing and industrial areas of Sumner that play an important role as a regional center.

Pam Roach, Pierce County Council member, District 2

“The Sumner industrial area is now Pierce County’s largest industrial employment center with nearly 11,500 workers employed there,” Pierce County Council member Pam Roach, District 2, said in a press release. “This project will help protect the manufacturing and industrial areas of Sumner that play an important role as a regional center.”

Now, public works is working to tackling specific projects and designs. The White River 24th Street Setback Project will require further funding for construction moving forward, but the $1 million from FCZD will lead the way.

“This is that first step that will leverage that funding,” Sumner communications director Carmen Palmer said.

Allison Needles: 253-597-8507, @herald_allison