Butte Pit Setback Levee Project

The goal of this project is to reduce flood risk and restore sustainable floodplain habitats on the White River, while addressing the challenges of a highly developed area with a high sediment load in the river.  


A corridor of levees was installed along the lower White River over 50 years ago to keep infrastructure, residents, and businesses safe in the Sumner, Bonney Lake, Auburn, and Pacific communities. Since then, the riverbed of the lower White River has risen over 20 feet due to sediment build-up. Continued sedimentation in the White River near the cities of Pacific and Sumner and has reduced the flow capacity of the White River which has resulted in adjacent areas being more prone to floods. 

Among these levees is the Butte Pit Levee, named after the old Butte gravel pit, purchased by Pierce County in 1922. Over the decades, this levee has experienced several flooding events resulting in severe damage. 

The Butte Pit Levee is critical to reduce flood risks to commercial businesses and homeowners along Butte Avenue Southeast in the heart of Pacific’s industrial district. Pierce County is working with city governments, tribal partners, and community stakeholders to design a new levee that benefit residents, businesses, critical infrastructure, and salmon habitat.

The Sediment Challenge

Contact Us

Sarah Motsenbocker
Project Manager
(253) 798-3153
[email protected]

Project Status

The project is currently in the acquisition phase. Meanwhile, the team is exploring structural and non-structural options to meet its project goals.


  • Project acquisition: Current
  • Project design: 2023-2024
  • Project construction: TBD


Pierce County will seek grant funding to combine with Pierce County Flood Control Zone District funds and local dollars to fund this project.

Pierce County applied for the FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Resilient Infrastructure Funding Program, but the project ultimately was not selected for funding. 

Project Pathway

Pierce County is taking a Pathways Approach to this project. As projects are developed upstream and downstream of this project site, Pierce County will use adaptive management to create a plan to meet the flood control needs.

Related Projects

Other jurisdictions are working on river-related projects in this area. Pierce County is coordinating with these other agencies on the Butte Pit project.

King County

City of Sumner 

Project Location

White River Butte Pit Project Area Opens in new window