SEPA Process

SEPA processState Environmental Review

State Environmental Review for the Proposed Chehalis River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Project

The Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District (Applicant) is seeking to construct a flood retention facility and associated temporary reservoir near the Lewis County town of Pe Ell, and make levee and other improvements around the Chehalis-Centralia Airport.

Ecology has determined the Applicant’s proposed Chehalis River Basin Flood Damage Reduction Project could have significant adverse environmental impacts.

Ecology is conducting an environmental review of the proposal under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). We are currently preparing a state draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will identify and analyze how the proposal is likely to affect the environment. 

Current status:  Work Underway on Draft SEPA EIS

February 27, 2020: Planned release of Draft SEPA EIS

February 27, 2020 – April 27, 2020: 61-day Public Comment Period

Once Ecology releases the draft SEPA EIS on February 27, 2020, the public comment period will start. It will be open for 61 days, from February 27 through April 27, 2020.

Ecology will also hold two public hearings – one in Centralia or Chehalis and the other in the lower basin. More information about the dates, times, and exact locations of the meetings and details about the multiple ways for people to provide comments will be available on this webpage.

Please sign up to be notified about information related to the SEPA EIS and the public comment period.  Our latest update about where we are in the SEPA EIS is available here.

In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is also conducting a separate but synchronized federal environmental review of the Applicant’s proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act.  See NEPA Process.

What is SEPA?

SEPA requires agencies to take environmental factors into consideration before taking action on state and local government decisions, such as issuing permits for projects. The Final EIS will be used to inform permit decisions and no permit decisions can be made until the environmental review process is complete.

What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

An EIS provides a comprehensive and objective evaluation of probable environmental impacts, reasonable alternatives, and mitigation measures that would avoid or minimize impacts. This analysis is necessary before an agency can act on any permit.

What is the proposed project?

The Applicant, the Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District, proposes to build a flood retention facility and associated temporary reservoir near Pe Ell on the Chehalis River and to extend the Chehalis-Centralia Airport Levee and Airport Road.  In response to questions from the lead agencies, the Applicant provided clarifications on the proposed project.

The Applicant clarified the purpose of the proposed flood retention facility and associated temporary reservoir is to reduce damage from Pe Ell to Centralia from periodic flooding triggered by rainfall in the Willapa Hills. The facility is not intended to address flooding in all parts of the Chehalis Basin.

What resources are being analyzed in the SEPA EIS?

The SEPA EIS will study probable significant environmental impacts from the proposed project and alternatives. The study will include climate change in the analysis for each resource area. The resources to be studied include:

  • Air quality
  • Amphibians
  • Cultural Resources (Historic and Archaeological)
  • Cumulative Impacts
  • Environmental Health and Safety
  • Environmental Justice
  • Fish
  • Geology and Geomorphology (Landslides and Earthquakes)
  • Habitat and Vegetation
  • Land Use
  • Noise
  • Public Services and Utilities
  • Recreation
  • Transportation
  • Tribal Resources
  • Visual
  • Water
  • Wetlands
  • Wildlife (including impacts to southern resident killer whales)

What geographic area is being analyzed in the SEPA EIS?

The geographic area of study will vary for each resource listed above based on where probable, significant impacts could occur.  In general, the study area will be the site of the flood retention facility site near Pe Ell, upriver and downriver to where probable impacts could occur, and near the Airport Levee. The study will look at the entire life-cycle of salmon and will analyze impacts to Chinook salmon that could affect southern resident killer whales.

What are the Alternatives that the EIS will look at?

Besides the proposed project, the EIS also will analyze what is known as a “no action” alternative. This examines what would happen if the flood retention facility is not built or no improvements made to the airport levee. We will also analyze an alternative of localized and nonstructural actions that could help retain flood waters while reducing flood-related damage.

Scoping Completed

Scoping is the first step in the environmental review process. Ecology and USACE held a joint SEPA/NEPA EIS scoping period from Sept. 28 through Oct. 29, 2018—including two public scoping meetings. During scoping, the public, tribes, agencies, businesses, and organizations provided input on the scope of the SEPA EIS to help identify project alternatives, probable significant adverse impacts, and potential mitigation measures. Ecology will consider the substantive scoping comments in the development of the Draft EIS.

The SEPA EIS Scoping Summary Report provides a summary of scoping comments and outreach. This report will be included in the SEPA draft EIS as well. Visit the EIS Scoping page for more information and to view scoping materials.

Contact Us

Environmental Contact

Diane Butorac, Ecology EIS Project Manager
ph: (360) 407-6573

Media Contact

Curt Hart, Ecology Communications
ph: (360) 407-6944; cell: (360) 701-1220;
Twitter: @ecologyWA

For More Information