Ford Setback Levee Preservation
About the Project
The original Ford Levee, built in the 1960s, experienced severe damage during the winter of 1995-1996. Deeming it unfeasible to rebuild the levee in its original alignment, Pierce County decided to construct a new levee closer to the road — set back from the original levee.
The new setback levee was constructed in 1998, providing better flood protection as well as reconnecting over 120 acres of floodplain habitat. Since then, several flood events and emergency repairs have shown that the setback levee was built with materials too small to withstand the erosive forces of the Puyallup River.
Because the levee cannot be set back any farther, this project intends to preserve the existing levee by reconstructing it with larger rocks that are better able to withstand the forces of the river and the changes of its path over time.
Benefits from this project include reducing the likelihood of future flood damage and minimizing the need for repair and maintenance, which helps protect the surrounding aquatic and riparian environments.
Why This Project Matters
This section of the Puyallup River is very active and subject to high, erosive forces with significant volumes of water. The existing levee has experienced several flooding events, which have impacted private property and threatened Orville Road, a critical transportation infrastructure in the area.
If left unaddressed, this section of the levee will continue to experience damages that may ultimately cause devastating effects to property, infrastructure and potentially life.
The project is currently in the planning phase with construction tentatively scheduled for 2026.
The Ford Setback Levee Reach of the Upper Puyallup River is located upstream of the City of Orting between river mile markers 23.5 and 24.9. Orville Road parallels the river on the east side of the valley and crosses the Puyallup River at a bridge immediately upstream of the project area.
- 2021 - 2022: Project development and initiation
- 2022 - 2023: Preliminary design phase
- 2023 - 2024: Final design and permitting
- 2026: Anticipated construction
This project is funded by Surface Water Management funds.
Pierce County has contracted with two consultants:
- Natural Systems Design (NSD) on initial alternatives analysis.
- Environmental Science Associates (ESA) on planning and design.