In the relatively short time period since American settlement began in the mid-1800s, floodplains in the Puyallup Watershed have been developed extensively. By 1931, most of the Puyallup River valley and surrounding hills had been harvested for timber and the valley was cleared for agriculture upstream of Orting. In the 1930s and 1940s, levees and revetments were constructed to prevent migration of river channels through agricultural lands.
In the 1960s, extensive portions of the Puyallup and Carbon rivers were straightened and confined with levees and revetments, allowing residential development in portions of the floodplain that used to be occupied by the river channel. Starting in the 1970s and continuing into the 2000s, large tracts of floodplain farmland was converted to residential, commercial, or industrial development.
Since 2013, Floodplains for the Future partners have collaborated to support, fund, and implement multi-benefit floodplain projects and activities in the Puyallup Watershed. Together, we have removed over 70 structures at high risk of flooding, conserved nearly 400 acres of farmland, restored critical salmon habitat and made numerous other advancements towards our goal of achieving integrated floodplain management in the Puyallup Watershed. We have many more projects currently underway, but not yet completed, as shown and described below.
Floodplains for the Future partners are implementing multi-benefit floodplain projects in the Puyallup, White, and Carbon River floodplains
Explore the watershed and view information developed by the Floodplains for the Future partnership as part of their Shared Monitoring Program. The interactive map displays the extent and condition of floodplains in the Puyallup Watershed and the location of many of the projects described below.
The Ball Creek project is part of a larger project that includes the conservation of the Matlock property. Ball Creek (WRIA 10.0405) is a small stream approximately 6 feet wide with about a 3 cfs mean flow and connects with the left bank Puyallup River at river mile 15. It is about 2.5 miles long and originates from springs emerging off the west valley wall. The stream has been documented to contain Coho and Pink salmon as well as Cutthroat trout (Ereth 2011 and Pierce County 2005). Prior to this restoration project, the stream encountered culverts, agriculture fields, railroad, residential duck ponds and a river revetment as it discharged into the Puyallup River. The riparian area consisted of a small strip of vegetation or none at all. The stream had been ditched to help drain the fields and received excess sediment from eroding soils, which in turn buried spawning gravels. There was also a partial barrier to upstream salmon migration at the mouth as the stream traverses the revetment. Summer flows were very low in the stream and often reached near lethal temperatures (high 60’s F) for salmon.
The project enhanced the lower one-half mile of Ball Creek by maximizing floodplain connectivity to the river and stream, planting riparian vegetation, producing a more natural stream meander pattern, and removing a partial fish passage barrier. Three barriers to fish migration were removed and 1,000 linear feet of new stream channel was constructed featuring a log jam at the confluence of Ball Creek and the Puyallup River.
The Calistoga/Ken Wolfe Setback Levee Project removed approximately 3,803 linear feet of existing levee located along the right (east) bank of the Puyallup River between RM 20.6 and 21.2. A new armored levee (3,839 feet) was constructed and set back to the east encompassing an area of approximately 29.4 acres. The project helped to promote channel migration of the Puyallup River and reconnect it to existing wetlands, as well as a pond and some low-lying riparian woodlands.
PRISM link: https://secure.rco.wa.gov/prism/search/projectsnapshot.aspx?ProjectNumber=10-1863
The South Fork Floodplain project reconnects about 42-acres of floodplain and constructs a 4,200 Linear foot major side channel which includes many engineered log jam structures, pools, rifles, and other natural wood features. The benefits include flood risk reduction for neighborhoods along the east side of the Puyallup River. Restoration of the floodplain allows the river to function more naturally by providing flood storage in a new side channel. This project also provides salmon habitat for spawning during the summer and fall, and juvenile salmon rearing during the winter, which is especially beneficial to endangered Chinook salmon.
The project provides protection to Orville Road from risks associated with channel migration and further protects approximately 70-acres of floodplain in the reach between river mile 26.2 and 28.4. Phase 1, in the vicinity of river mile 26.8 was completed in 2014 and included approximately 800 linear feet of setback revetment and 23 engineered log jams, including 6 in-channel log jams. The Phase 2 project between river mile 28.4 to 27.4 is divided into four construction sub-phases 2a, 2b, 2c-year 1, and 2c-year 2. To date Phase 2a, 2b, and 2c-year 1 have been completed. So far, the Phase 2 project has installed approximately 4,500 linear feet of setback revetment consisting of 72 engineered log jams. Phase 2c-year 2, the final phase is scheduled to be completed in 2023 and will include 40 floodplain engineered log jams and approximately 2,600 linear feet of existing levee removal. https://www.piercecountywa.gov/3159/Puyallup-River-Flood-Protection-at-Orvil
The South Prairie Creek Restoration Project involves stream and floodplain restoration along on South Prairie Creek between river mile 4.0 and 4.5, The project includes demolition of derelict buildings, placement of large wood and engineered logs jams and constructing/reconnecting side channel habitat on the north floodplain. Project actions improve instream and off-channel habitat, floodplain connectivity, flood storage and groundwater recharge, and will restore the floodplain forest to increase the capacity of the stream to support salmon and trout. The project was initiated in 2013 and construction was completed in 2020. Planting efforts on 50 acres will be ongoing into 2021 and beyond.
The long-term goals of the Alward Road Project include removal of nearly 9,000 linear feet of existing levee to reconnect the Carbon River left bank floodplain and creation of 150 acres of off-channel habitat. An armored levee would be constructed and set back from the Carbon River to the south, encompassing an area of approximately 142 acres. The project intends to improve flood protection, maximize storage volume at low frequency events, promote increased channel complexity and multi-channel reaches, and maximize habitat diversity and use. Pierce County will need to acquire 81 properties for this project. As of November 2020, 61 properties have been acquired and 20 properties remain.
Alward Road project link: http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/3578/177thAlward-Road-Property-Acquisition
This potential future project involves the removal of 3,130 feet of existing levee along the left bank of the Carbon River and the construction of a new armored levee set back to the west and south , potentially encompassing an area of approximately 124 acres to increase flood protection. The project is currently in the feasibility study phase and is anticipated to be completed by second quarter of 2021.
Carbon River Setback Levee project link: https://piercecountywa.gov/6340/Carbon-River-Levee
The purpose of the project is to connect Carbon River main channel flows to the right bank side (between river miles 3.9 and 4.2) via an existing right bank floodplain side channel. The right bank floodplain side channel will be engaged and connected by constructing Engineered Log Jams (ELJ) in the main stem channel. The targeted range of flows for reconnection are 5-year and 2-year recurrence intervals or less, depending on main stem channel conditions at any given time frame. The project stems from, is necessitated by, and is identified in the Pierce County draft Habitat Conservation Plan. The project is currently in progress and at the feasibility conceptual design phase.
Project website is under development
The project includes acquisition of flood prone properties as a risk reduction measure and in preparation for future projects. The goals of this project include developing a collaborative, multi-benefit solution to flooding in the Clear Creek floodplain; establishing the best habitat potential for the floodplain; establishing best use for agriculture in the floodplain and continue stakeholder involvement in the long term. The Clear Creek Strategy plan has been developed to provide a framework for the project based on current circumstances and goals of the project. Current work includes research project development to identify how fish utilize the Clear Creek system as well as identifying agricultural needs and potential actions in the area.
Pierce County project link: http://www.piercecountywa.org/4574/Clear-Creek-Strategy-Plan
Habitat Work Schedule link:http://hws.ekosystem.us/project/230/40010
This project proposes to improve salmon habitat and increase flood storage capacity by removing sections of an access road that separates Clear Creek from an adjacent wetland owned by Port of Tacoma. The project is located near the mouth of Clear Creek and is in the preliminary design stage. Construction is planned for the summer of 2022.
This project will replace an existing wooden flap gate on one of two culverts that drain Clear Creek to the Puyallup River. The new gate will be designed to work in conjunction with the other gate and be optimized to better allow fish passage and reduce flooding impacts along Clear Creek. Pierce County is partnering with the Port of Tacoma on this project and construction is planned for summer 2022.
Project Link: https://www.piercecountywa.gov/6277/Clear-Creek-Flood-Gate
This project is a continuation of two previous phases to improve floodplain connectivity and fish habitat. Forterra is acquiring a property adjacent to the earlier phases. Buildings and roads will be demolished, and plantings and fish habitat features will be installed. Demolition will be completed in 2021 and 2022. Construction is planned for 2023.
This project is a coordinated analysis to evaluate how four planned setback levee projects in close proximity alleviate flood risk and impacts along both the right and left banks of the Puyallup River near the 128th East Street bridge crossing including as outlined below. The study will determine the number and timing of each setback levee based on habitat gain, amount of added flood storage, project costs, amount of property needed, community impact, construction timing and how each project affects one another. The potential projects are listed below.
Northwest Quadrant - 116th Street Reconnection/Setback - The 116th Street Reconnection & Setback Project includes removal of existing levees and construction of new levees farther back from the Puyallup River. Approximately 4,933 linear feet of existing levee and revetments located along the left (west) bank of the Puyallup River between Puyallup RM 15.7 and 16.7 would be removed and a new armored levee of approximately 6,910 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the west, encompassing an area of approximately 104 acres. The project would reconnect the Puyallup River with riparian vegetation, wetlands and ponds.
Northeast Quadrant - Canyon Falls Creek – The proposed Canyon Falls Creek Project involves the removal of existing levees and construction of new levees farther back from the Puyallup River. Approximately 3,820 linear feet of existing levee and revetments located along the right (east) bank of the Puyallup River between Puyallup RM 15.9 and 16.7 would be removed and a new armored levee of approximately 3,899 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the east, encompassing an area of approximately 46.3 acres. The project would reconnect the Puyallup River with riparian woodlands, a major tributary (Canyon Falls Creek), wetlands, and remnant side-channel habitat.
Southwest and Southeast Quadrants - McCutcheon Road and 128th Street East -The proposed solution is for the construction of setback levees on both the left and right bank of the Puyallup (setbacks #12 and #13 from the Levee Setback Feasibility Study). The right bank levee (SE Quadrant) would follow the alignment of McCutcheon Road then follow the topography and tie back into the river at the confluence of the Puyallup and Carbon Rivers. The left bank levee (SW Quadrant) would follow the contour of the historic channel migration and tie back into the Puyallup just prior to the 128th Street Bridge crossing. The Southwest quadrant has been identified as a mitigation project in the draft Pierce County Flood Risk Reduction Maintenance and Operations Habitat Conservation Plan and is therefore not a FFTF project.
The US Army Corps under the Continuing Authorities Program is designing and constructing a new setback levee within the City of Orting upstream of the Calistoga/Ken Wolfe Levee on the right bank between RM 22.5 and RM 21.3. It is currently in the planning phase and will result in a reduction of flood risk and increase in connected floodplain habitat.
This project involves the acquisition of all properties along Neadham Rd, removal of residential structures and all utilities and road infrastructure associated with Neadham Road. Once property acquisition is complete the remaining levee infrastructure will be removed, and the river will be allowed to access its historic floodplain. The project is intended to reconnect the historic floodplain disconnected by the Neadham Road flood control structures on the right bank between RM 26.7 and RM 25.6. This project is currently in final acquisition and preliminary design phase.
Near the area where Kapowsin Creek drains into the Puyallup River, Pierce County is continuing its efforts to protect Orville Road from the impacts of the river migrating toward the road. The county is currently conducting preliminary engineering to evaluate potential solutions. The project may include installation of engineered log jams to reduce the energy of the river, provide protection to Orville Road and improve fish and floodplain habitat. The work may be similar in nature to the other projects, including Orville Road Setback Revetment projects underway further up-river. Construction is tentatively scheduled for 2023.
The final phase of the Orville Road Revetment Project is scheduled for completion in 2023. It will consist of 40 floodplain engineered log jams. Project will also remove approximately 2,600 linear feet of existing and remnant levee creating improved floodplain connectivity to approximately 70-acres.
Pierce County is partnering with the Puyallup Tribe to develop a project to stabilize streambanks, slow erosion and allow the channel to return to a more natural state through a combination of woody material placement, streambed gravel and plantings. Additional project partners include Tacoma Metro Parks and Pierce County Parks. This project is in the design phase with construction scheduled for 2023-2024.
The Lower White River Restoration projects consist of a reach scale restoration plan that will enhance/restore floodplain and riparian habitat, allow the river room to migrate, and provide increased floodwater and sediment storage. The projects include Stewart Road Bridge replacement, Left Bank Setback, Pacific Point Bar, and 24th Setback Levee. The largest of these projects is the 24th Setback Levee which covers over 170 acres and is planned for construction in 2021 pending issuance of environmental permitting. The Pacific Pointbar and Stewart setback are both undergoing design and acquisition with 5 of the 19 parcels acquired and 5 more in process. All projects combined will restore over 200 acres and 2.4 miles of river.
The goal of this project is to address flooding issues along Butte Avenue. The proposed project is a setback levee along the right bank of the White River extending from the end of the King County proposed Pacific Right Bank Flood Protection Project to upstream of the 8th Street Bridge in Sumner to provide flood protection and reconnect the floodplain. This project is currently in the property acquisition phase.
Project websites: https://www.piercecountywa.gov/6217/Butte-Pit-Flooding-Project; https://kingcounty.gov/depts/dnrp/wlr/sections-programs/river-floodplain-section/capital-projects/lower-white-river-right-bank.aspx
Pierce County Planning and Public Works completed a maintenance project on 780 liner feet of existing levee by the Sumner link trail. The project was located just south of 16th St E on the right bank of the White River at river mile 3.85. The landward side of the levee was reinforced with rock, topped with soil and will be planted with native plants. The maintenance project was completed as an interim measure to protect the bank from channel migration until the Lower White River Restoration project can be constructed.
Project website: piercecountywa.gov/whiteriverlevee
The Horse Haven Project proposes removing approximately 2,547 linear feet of existing levee located along the left (south) bank of the South Fork Puyallup River between RM 19.1 and RM 19.6. A new armored levee (3,239 feet) would be constructed and set back to the south, encompassing an area of approximately 31 acres. The project is intended to reconnect the Puyallup River to remnant riparian springs.
The Riverside Drive project proposes the removal of existing levees and revetments and construction of new levees farther back from the Puyallup River. Approximately 2,463 linear feet of existing levees and revetments located along the right (north) bank of the Puyallup River between Puyallup RM 12.4 and 12.8 will be removed and a new armored levee of approximately 3,484 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the north, encompassing an area of approximately 31.6 acres.
The proposed Union Pacific Setback Project includes removal of existing levees and construction of new levees farther back from the Puyallup River. Approximately 5,703 linear feet of existing levee located along the right (north) bank of the Puyallup River between Puyallup RM 2.6 and 3.7 would be removed and an armored levee of approximately 6,432 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the north, encompassing an area of approximately 113.4 acres. The project would reconnect the Puyallup River to remnant riparian springs.
The Linden Golf Course Oxbow Project proposes to remove sections or all the approximately 4,456 linear feet of existing levee located along the left (south) bank of the Puyallup River between points located approximately at Puyallup RM 9.6 and 10.5. An armored levee of approximately 4,346 linear feet would be set back from the Puyallup River to the south, encompassing an area of approximately 42.4 acres. The project would reconnect the Puyallup River with remnant riparian wetlands.
Habitat Work Schedule link: http://hws.ekosystem.us/project/230/15167
As part of the FFTF vision, members of the Strategic Conservation Partnership are conserving farms in the floodplains of the Puyallup Watershed. Agricultural conservation easements keep farms in farming and protect floodplain parcels from residential or commercial development. Collaborating with other FFTF partners on agricultural conservation easements also allows for opportunities to protect habitat as part of the conservation project. SCP members have protected the farms listed below and are currently working on other agricultural conservation projects.