Advocate for Floodplains and Local Communities

The US Army Corps of Engineers will be holding two open houses December 12 and December 13, 2018 to present and take input on options to modernize the Columbia River Levee System that runs from North Portland to Troutdale.

The levee system is up for recertification and reaccreditation and significant structural deficiencies must be remedied in order for that to happen. Although this effort has been flying low on the radar screen, this process is actually a big deal—it will be very expensive and it may result in the formation of a completely new Flood Management Special District for the region.

It is also a major opportunity—20th Century flood control strategies relied heavily upon structural barriers to prevent flooding, often constructed with minimal regard for ecological impacts, environmental justice, and in ways that still left communities highly vulnerable to flooding.

It is important that the Corps hear from the community that we want it to develop alternatives that restore our environment, integrate environmental justice goals and create landscape resiliency in the face of climate change. Bird Alliance of Oregon had been participating as a stakeholder in the Levee Ready Columbia Process for more than two years.

Photo by Scott Carpenter

Please tell the Corps that their alternatives should include:

  • Climate change modeling to ensure that our flood management strategies will remain resilient in the face of climate change
  • Opportunities to reconnect historic floodplains to provide flood storage, fish and wildlife habitat, and improve water quality.
  • Opportunities to increase green infrastructure (trees, green roofs, green streets, etc.) inside the levee system to address stormwater in an ecologically responsible manner.
  • Modernized levee management protocols to allow habitat restoration on an around the levees.
  • Environmental justice objectives that recognize the inequities that are part of the legacy of flooding and flood management strategies along the Columbia