Environmental Review

Draft state environmental review comment period ended on May 27, 2020

The Chehalis River Basin Flood Control Zone District proposed constructing a flood retention dam and associated temporary reservoir on the Chehalis River near Pe Ell, and making changes to the Chehalis-Centralia Airport levee. Ecology’s state draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzed how the proposal is likely to affect the environment under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). More detail is below, and Ecology’s focus sheet has an overview of the findings of the draft EIS.

Ecology held a public comment period on the draft SEPA EIS from February 27 to May 27, 2020. Next, they will consider the comments. Comments are available to view or download on the SEPA EIS webpage. Responses to the comments will be included in the final SEPA EIS, expected to be released in spring 2021.

Relationship to Chehalis Basin Strategy

Communities in the basin are working with the Chehalis Basin Board on a long-term strategy to reduce flood damage and restore aquatic habitat. One part of this strategy is to consider large-scale flood damage reduction actions. The project evaluated in the draft environmental review is one of the proposed actions for consideration. The Chehalis Basin Board is expected to use the information in the environmental review, along with other information, to inform their recommendations for the long-term strategy.

Study identifies significant environmental impacts

Ecology’s review studied the likely significant environmental impacts from the Flood District’s project as well as alternatives. Ecology looked at 17 different environmental elements including impacts to air quality, cultural resources, environmental health and safety, environmental justice, fish and aquatic species, habitat and land use, recreation, transportation, tribal resources, water, wetlands, and wildlife.

Under Ecology’s analysis, the project would reduce flooding to buildings and infrastructure, including U.S. Interstate 5. It would have significant adverse effects, mainly along the Chehalis River in the area above the flood retention dam and below the structure to Rainbow Falls. These include:

  • Reducing spring- and fall-run Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, and steelhead trout
  • Reducing native aquatic species such as lamprey and mussels
  • Reducing wildlife such as amphibians
  • Degrading habitat on land, and in water and wetlands
  • Degrading river and stream water quality
  • Eliminating access for recreational fishing and whitewater boating
  • Increasing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Impacting tribal and cultural resources

Several impacts from the proposal would be unavoidable unless measures to offset them are determined to be feasible and meet regulatory requirements. This would be determined during future permitting processes including local and tribal governments, and state and federal agencies.

Should the project move forward, there are nearly 40 local, state, and federal authorizations, approvals, and permits that would be needed.

More information on the State Environmental Review

Information on the National Environmental Review
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a separate but synchronized federal review of the district’s proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act. The federal draft review is planned to be released in September 2020.

Equal access

To ensure equal access to materials, Ecology will provide auxiliary aids/services to persons with disabilities. Please call (360) 407-6831 with any requests. Persons with hearing loss and speech disability can contact 711 for the Washington Relay Service. Persons with a speech disability may call TTY at (877) 833-6341. All meeting-related requests must be received 72 hours in advance.

En Español

El Departamento de Ecología del Estado de Washington (Ecología) determinó que el Proyecto Propuesto podría tener impactos ambientales adversos y significativos. El Borrador de la Declaración del Impacto Ambiental (EIS por sus siglas en inglés) identifica y analiza cómo es probable que el Proyecto Propuesto afecte el medio ambiente. Ecología ha preparado un borrador de EIS bajo los requisitos de la Ley Estatal de Política Ambiental (SEPA) en el Código Administrativo de Washington 197-11. Una EIS SEPA no aprueba ni niega un proyecto propuesto. Proporciona información sobre los impactos ambientales probables, significativos, y adversos, de una propuesta.

Ecología está solicitando comentarios públicos para el borrador de la EIS SEPA sobre el Proyecto Propuesto del 27 de febrero al 27 de mayo de 2020. Los comentarios recibidos sobre el borrador de la EIS SEPA durante el período de comentarios serán compilados y revisados por Ecología. Se considerarán comentarios sustantivos en la preparación de la versión finalizada de la EIS SEPA.