Calistoga Reach on the Puyallup River has been a site of significant flood risk for residents in Orting, Washington. In 2006 and 2009, the river spilled over its banks and forced thousands to flee from their damaged homes.
To guard against a recurrence of such disasters, a $16 million project to increase floodwater storage and conveyance on the river was completed in 2014. The Calistoga project included removal of about one mile of existing riverbank levee and construction of 1.5 miles of levee farther back from the river. Large logjams were added for habitat and to protect the new levee. A new side channel to the Puyallup River increased floodplain forest habitat and reconnected 46 acres of backwater area, restoring 101 acres of floodplain.
Shortly after the project was completed, the floodwaters came again to Orting. They came with nearly the same volume, but this time the people remained secure in their homes. The new flood control restoration allowed the flood surge to spread out in a new way, across a wider plain. The enhanced security for homeowners has also meant a more natural and salmon-friendly ecosystem. The Puyallup River is among 17 major river systems in the Puget Sound region where people are putting their heads together to reduce serious flooding problems, improve salmon habitat, support agriculture, and increase recreational opportunities.
- Floodplains by Design (initiated by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Congressional District: 8
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- The Nature Conservancy
- Puget Sound Partnership
- Washington State Department of Ecology
- City of Orting