U.S. Rep. Brian Baird has secured authorization for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin studying a solution to chronic flooding in the Grays River valley. As a next step, Baird will work to secure funding for the study. The funds would be appropriated for fiscal year 2004.

"Since the early 1990s, flooding in the Grays River valley has escalated to four or more major flooding events each season, affecting utility district facilities, roads, farmland and private residences," said Baird, D-Wash. "The authorization I have secured in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today is the first step in reducing flooding, erosion, loss of river capacity, elevated water temperatures and loss of fish habitat on the Grays River."

The study, if funded, would last approximately one year and cost $100,000. In this phase of the study, the Corps would determine whether solving chronic flooding in the Grays River valley has nationwide benefits; whether a state or local sponsor is willing to commit to a cost-sharing arrangement; and whether a solution is feasible.

If the three criteria are met, the Corps would determine the specific costs of proposed solutions.

Concerns and possible solutions from area residents and local agencies include taking steps to keep the Grays River from establishing a new channel through State Route 4 by preventing a breach at Fossil Creek; increasing the carrying capacity of the river, which could include removal of gravel bars and dredging tidal portions of the Grays River to its mouth; considering different options for decreasing the level of erosion; and protecting the local transportation infrastructure and the Western Wahkiakum water well system, funded in 2001 with a $1.5 million State and Tribal Assistance Grant through the Environmental Protection Agency.