Jones Levee Feasibility Study
Large parts of the City of Orting are at risk of flooding, from both the Puyallup and Carbon Rivers. The City recently completed the Ken Wolfe (Calistoga) Levee project to lessen flood risk in their community, and this project will further build on that effort.
The Jones Levee project will extend the Wolfe Levee further upstream, ending at high ground. This will prevent flood waters from getting behind Wolfe Levee and greatly reduce the City’s flood risk. Both of these projects are designed as “setbacks” which means the river is given more room to naturally meander. This extra room is also useful during a flood, lowering the flood levels and taking pressure off of the levee system.
Development along the river has increased the impact of flooding on life safety, property, and infrastructure. Levees confine the Puyallup and Carbon Rivers next to the City of Orting and limit channel capacity. Since 1990, major flood events occurred in 1990, 1996, 2006, 2009, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2020.
Pierce County is currently working on the 2023 Comprehensive Flood Hazard Management Plan to create a resilient community and this study is an important input to the County's long range planning.
Pierce County requested the Corps’ assistance to address flood risk in the watershed. Modifications to Jones Levee to protect the City of Orting were originally evaluated as part of the Puyallup River General Investigation Study (GI) from 2009 to 2018 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District in partnership with Pierce County. The Corps released a Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (FR/EIS) for the GI in 2016, which recommended raising Jones Levee. Significant public comments and concerns were put forward with the raise-in-place recommendation due to environmental impacts associated with the levee modification. Several comments were received supporting a setback levee option which provides secondary benefits in the form of increased habitat value to the primary benefit of flood protection. The Puyallup River GI Study was cancelled in 2018 due to economic infeasibility (costs outweighed benefits), so the Corps recommended Pierce County pursue the current Jones Levee project path.
The Corps of Engineers plans on starting a 30 day public comment period for this study effort on July 12th, 2021. A link to the Corps’ website will be made available on this page as soon as it is available. At that time, the Corps’ website will provide additional information about the results of the study and the draft recommendations.
Assuming that the feasibility study supports proceeding with this project, Pierce County will need to enter into a new contract with the Corps to start the formal design process. Once a project configuration has been selected, project design, permitting and acquisition of property rights all need to happen before construction can begin. Construction is currently estimated to start in either 2024 or 2025.