KENT, Wash. - It’s hard to find a prettier sight in Kent. At the Elliott Farm, the fall colors shadow an array of animals from baby cows and donkeys, to llamas.
But in this area, there is also the occasional unwanted visitor.
“At least once a year, maybe even twice, when the river is full, we get water,” said Bruce Elliott.
He’s talking about flooding.
The Green River goes right through Kent. The Howard Hanson dam helps keep the river at bay, but floods still threaten the valley.
“When the river is high, either the water is backing in, or the water coming from Auburn can’t get out.” Said Elliott.
City engineers believe they have a plan that can help alleviate flooding in Kent. They are reshaping the old Downey Farmstead along the river, clearing the land, and building new channels for the green river to flow into.
“This will lower the flood levels in the immediate area by approximately 6 inches,” said Matt Knox, Kent’s city engineer. “That means it’s not going into peoples’ basements, or going into pasture areas.”
The project is one of several around Kent that will hopefully reduce flooding, but another major goal behind it is to also boost the Chinook salmon population.
“These projects are adding what we call salmon rest stops,” said Dana Ralph, the mayor of Kent. “There will be areas carved out of the river where the baby salmon can get out of that really fast stream.”
“If they do find these off-channel habitat areas, they grow about twice as large and have a much better survival rate,” said Knox. “We know we have a problem right now with the adult Chinook salmon not returning in large numbers.”
It’s a $7 million project that will still take two more years to complete, but in the end, Matt Knox says it will transform an old farmstead into something new.
“We’re hoping to send it to its ultimate use in providing help for salmon and reducing floods," Knox said.