128th Street Comprehensive Setback Levee Feasibility Open House

About the Study

Welcome to the open house. Pierce County Planning and Public Works is conducting a feasibility study to reduce the flooding risks and impacts along the Puyallup River near the 128th Street East bridge crossing. 

Though levees are present along both banks of the Puyallup River, this area experiences widespread flooding due to insufficient channel capacity and existing levee protection. Setback levee features can help to reduce risk from flooding to nearby properties, infrastructure, and also improve fish and wildlife habitat. 

Visit our 128th Street Comprehensive Setback Levee Feasibility Study home page to learn more. 

Study Goals

The primary goal of this study is to learn how levee setbacks or other flood risk reduction measures would benefit the public, residents, and the natural environment. The supporting goals are to:

  • Reduce flood risk to life and property.
  • Restore, enhance, and protect natural resources.


We Want to Hear From You

Throughout this study, Pierce County is committed to working with the community and nearby property owners to develop alternatives and prioritize potential future projects. 

In 2020, we asked you about your experiences with flooding and your preferences for future flood risk reduction projects. We heard:

  • Most survey participants live or own property near the study area and feel that reducing flood risks will benefit them directly.
  • Many survey participants have experienced flooding, ranging from low to severe in nature.
  • The community values safeguarding the river and wants to understand how widening the river floodplain may affect nearby neighbors and farms.
  • Flooding has caused changes to the landscape, blocked access roads, and damage to property and habitat.

Starting June 7th, and over the next 30 days, we want to learn more about your concerns and interests. We would also like to hear about opportunities and benefits you’d like to see that potential future levee setback projects could provide. Your ideas will help our technical team best understand community needs and expectations as they identify and develop conceptual alternatives to address flooding problems for this reach of the Puyallup River.

To hear more about the project background and what we are working on, please watch the video below

Contact Us 

Pierce County staff is available to discuss the feasibility study and what it could mean for the area.

Angela Angove, Project Manager

253-798-2460 [email protected]

Randy Brake, Project Manager


[email protected]

Other Projects in the Area

Study Location

The project area is east of State Route 162, west of McCutcheon Road East, south of 112th Street East and north of 144th Street East and along both the right and left banks of the Puyallup River between river miles 15.7 and 17.5, bisected by the 128th Street East bridge crossing (and north of the City of Orting limits).

128th Study Area

This area is divided into four quadrants: NE, NW, SE, and SW to help assess the unique existing conditions, flood risk reduction opportunities and problems in each. A proposed levee setback in one quadrant may influence flood risk reduction in all three of the others. Therefore, all the quadrants are being evaluated concurrently.

The Puyallup River is Evolving

Over time, rivers erode rocks, dirt, and other sediments and deposit them downstream. This is one of several factors that can cause rivers to change course and flow into new areas over time. The maps below show how the Puyallup River near the 128th Street East bridge crossing has changed its course over time. The Height Above Water Surface Map (shown to the right) shares more information about this. For example, the purple areas on the mapping indicate locations on the floodplains that are relatively lower than other areas, and the darker the purple color the lower the floodplain surface. The patterns that are evident in the mapping show old river meander locations and other depressions that can provide increased flood storage and more frequent seasonal habitat benefits if re-connected to the river.

Historical Channel Occupation

The Historic Channel Occupation Tract Map (shown to the right) reflects how the dynamic Puyallup River has shifted its active channel over time. Starting in 1880, the US General Land Office did a survey to start tracking river meanders. Incorporating this with the historical aerial photos taken between 1931 and 1998, we start to see a picture of how much the Puyallup river systems has changed in the last 140 years. 

This Historical Channel Occupation Tract map is produced using a compilation of active historical Puyallup River channel occupation location areas changing over time. With this ever evolving channel, it’s important to understand the changes in history so we can help protect for the future.

Puyallup River (and 128th ST E Bridge Crossing) 1931 Historical Aerial Photograph


As the river moves and changes, flooding can become more pronounced during times of heavy rainfall. This flooding can damage property and public infrastructure, impact travel and evacuation routes, and cause a loss of fish habitat. Moving existing levees back from the river’s edge and reconnecting floodplains provide increased storage for flood waters. This additional capacity helps to reduce flood risks to the public, residents and property, create more reliable access to roads, reduce flooding of structures and risk of damage to the levees, fields and farmland, and create more fish habitat and spawning areas.

The Height Above Water Surface Map shows shows the difference in elevation between floodplain land surfaces and adjacent river water surfaces.

REM project area HAWS

Historic Channel Occupation Tract map shows how the dynamic Puyallup River has shifted its active channel over time


Capital project, part of the Pierce County River Flood Hazard Management Plan and Capital Facilities Plan.

  Existing Conditions and Project Opportunities

From our work to date, we have analyzed existing flood conditions in the study area, identified opportunities to reduce flood risk, and are starting to develop conceptual alternatives.

The video below shows a flood event passing through the study area. This animation was generated from a hydraulic model simulation of the November 2006 flood event on the Puyallup River. The animation shows the pattern, timing, and the spatial extent of flooding for existing conditions during a major flood. The peak discharge in the Puyallup River for the simulated flood event is 40,300 cubic feet per second.

Please see the maps and details below to learn more about what we expect to see if no changes are made, as well as some opportunities that we would expect to see if setback levees or other project opportunities are implemented into the area. Each quadrant has Existing Conditions and Opportunities, and Maps. Click on each Map to review in detail.

  1. Project Opportunities
  2. Existing Conditions

128th Ave E Existing Conditions and Opportunities 4-15-2021_Page_2Click on Map to review in detail
What do we hope to accomplish?
  • This study is looking at strategies to address those problems shared on the previous page and that are in alignment with identified project goals. The opportunities that the team have identified to date include:
    • Reconnecting low elevation floodplain areas to the river can provide significant flood storage and high value fish habitat where the restored floodplain will experience frequent flooding and inundation.
    • Reconnecting additional areas to the river floodplain can provide flood storage and perennial wetland habitat sustained by frequent flooding.
    • Reconnecting areas farther from the river can provide flood storage during severe flood events and seasonal wetland habitat sustained by less frequent flooding.
    • Sediment deposited in the floodplain can help maintain channel conveyance and reduce flood risk.
    • Reduce risk of damage to levees and bridges by spreading out flood flows.

  Project Timeline
  • Winter 2020: Preliminary information and data gathering and early stakeholder engagement.
  • Summer 2020- Winter 2021: Study scoping, fieldwork, and early public engagement.
  • Spring - Summer 2021: Identify opportunities and problems, and interim outreach and public feedback in advance of study alternatives development.
  • Fall - Winter 2021: Identify and evaluate draft alternatives and prepare draft feasibility report.
  • Spring 2022: Share draft study findings and gather public feedback about draft alternatives.
  • Summer 2022: Finalize study and share results.
  • 2023 & BeyondDesign, property acquisition, and project implementation.
Next Steps: Prioritizing Future Projects

Our next step in this work is to identify and develop several different conceptual alternatives or how we can manage levees in this area to best meet project goals and fully realize identified opportunities in this area. This work will likely involve balancing different needs for the project and it may involve some tradeoffs.

As we look ahead to developing alternatives, we want to make sure that we’re keeping important needs, and benefits, in mind. Part of our analysis of the alternatives we develop will be to evaluate and score each one using a set of benefit measures (which are general benefit categories at this point), and then determine whether or not the alternative strikes the appropriate balance between tradeoffs and opportunities. 

We need your help with providing initial input about what benefit categories you value the most. The high-level elements that we have in mind as we start to examine feasibility study alternatives include:

  • Flood risk reduction
  • Habitat creation
  • Cost


Get Involved

The ideas you share today help us learn about what’s important to you as we continue this work. We’ll keep this information in mind as we work on potential alternatives for managing levees along this stretch of the Puyallup River. We expect to come back to you later this year and share these alternatives so you can help us determine which ones are the best fit for the community. 

Join us on Thursday, June 17 from 12-1 p.m. and Wednesday, June 23 from 6-7 p.m. to learn more about the project, meet with the project managers, ask your questions, and voice your input. If you would like to participate in our digital workshops to learn more about the ideas shared on this website, you can register here:


We want to hear from you today. Share your ideas about existing conditions, future project opportunities and benefits. This information will help us as we continue to develop and refine concepts for each of the quadrants.