Kittitas County Flood Control Zone District receives $254K grant

KITTITAS COUNTY NEWS RELEASE -- The Kittitas County Flood Control Zone District was awarded a grant from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in the amount of $254,000 to perform an assessment of the Naneum, Wilson and Cherry Creek watersheds. The grant will fund Phase 1 of the project, which will begin in 2014 and be completed in 2017.

This project will assess existing conditions in the Naneum, Wilson and Cherry Creek watersheds in order to work toward development of an integrated and mutually beneficial management plan that addresses fish habitat, floods hazards, and infrastructure needs.

There currently is not a comprehensive strategy within these watersheds. The goal of the project is to bring together stakeholders, including landowners, irrigation districts, resource managers, local governments, and non-profit organizations, to develop consensus toward goals and develop a strategy for continued recovery of salmon within the watersheds.

The Phase 1 assessment will also provide criteria which will be used to prioritize future projects in order to make the best use of resources.
Restoring fish passage into the Naneum Canyon is a priority goal of many plans, including the Yakima Steelhead Recovery Plan and the Yakima Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan. Barriers in the streams, such as irrigation diversions, dams, and culverts, prevent fish from accessing the upper reaches of the creek.

Above the mouth of the Naneum Canyon, there are approximately 40 miles of perennial stream which provides high quality habitat for fish. Within the Wilson and Cherry Creek watersheds, there is an additional 20 miles of perennial stream.

To complete the assessment, the project team will identify the locations of diversions, assess flood hazards, perform fish surveys, inventory habitat and infrastructure, map accurate stream and ditch locations, construct a two dimensional hydraulic and hydrologic model, and obtain LiDAR of the upper Naneum watershed.

The Flood Control Zone District is partnering with Kittitas County Public Works, Kittitas County Conservation District, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, the Bureau of Reclamation, and US Forest Service to fund the project.

The Flood Control Zone District will be able to use this data to identify flood hazard reduction projects. For example, the assessment will identify undersized bridges and culverts which can cause water to back up and floodplains that are ideal for restoration which will reduce flooding downstream. The hydrologic and hydraulic model can be used to help design bridges and other in-stream project to ensure their success during flood events.

At the end of Phase 1, a report will be prepared which includes all of the information gathered in the assessments and inventories, the common goal, and the criteria for future projects. Phase 2 of the project will involve identifying, prioritizing and designing projects that meet the goals and criteria established in Phase 1.

"The Flood Control Zone District strives to create solutions with multiple benefits. Many factors have impeded effective and sustainable floodplain management strategies in Kittitas County and throughout Washington state: lack of public support, high costs, and the potentially conflicting nature of agency programs," states Kirk Holmes, Kittitas County Director of Public Works. "We believe in the 'Floodplains by Design' concepts which works to develop projects and programming where floodplain protection and restoration provides the greatest benefits to people and nature to achieve greater efficiency and impact."