White River Basin

White River Basin Map
Highlighted Area Above: White River Basin

The King County Flood Control District invests resources in the White River Basin to protect public safety, the regional economy, and critical infrastructure.

The King County portion of the White River flows between the cities of Enumclaw and Buckley, then through the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation and then along the cities of Auburn, Algona and Pacific, leaving King County near the City of Sumner to feed the Puyallup River, which enters Puget Sound at Commencement Bay in Tacoma. The White River channel forms a portion of the boundary line between King County and Pierce County from the confluence with the Greenwater River.

White River

The White River is a glacially-borne river system that originates on the northeast face of Mount Rainier. The river appears white during summer when it carries a suspended load of fine sediments from glacial melting known as glacial flour.

Mud Mountain Dam has had a significant effect on flooding in the White River since its completion in 1948. Puget Sound Energy’s diversion of flows since 1912 for hydropower generation through Lake Tapps also has had an effect on the river flow.

Industrial and residential land uses are common along the downstream portion of the basin. The lower 11 river miles of the White River, are lined by revetments and levees in a section that was channelized in the early 1900s through the Inter-County River Improvement Agreement. On the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe Reservation and upstream, the river flows through the White River canyon, a deep and generally undeveloped valley along the King and Pierce county line. Above the dam, the watershed is largely undeveloped.

Investments in the Basin

Current Basin Projects

Pacific Right Bank Flood Protection
This project is located on the right bank floodplain of the White River in the City of Pacific extending from the BNSF Railway south to the King-Pierce County boundary line, as shown on the map below.

Significant flooding along the right bank of the White River in January 2009 directly impacted the neighborhood communities of White River Estates, 3rd and 4th Avenues, and Pacific Park. The goal of this project is to substantially reduce the potential for White River flooding in the City of Pacific and improve environmental conditions along this portion of the White River.