King County Flood Control District Launches New Blog

Steven SchauerUncategorized

By Michelle Clark, Executive Director

Welcome to the King County Flood Control District (KCFCD) Blog! Our new weekly blog is part of our revamped website, which is your one-stop shop to learn about how the KCFCD serves the residents of King County. Each week, we’ll use the blog to share important project updates, safety tips, and helpful resources to keep you and your loved ones informed about flooding issues throughout King County.

Here in King County, we have thriving urban, suburban, and rural communities and economies. We’re equally fortunate to live in an area full of stunning scenery, with mountains, rivers, and evergreen forests all within easy reach. However, all that urbanization and natural beauty also comes with the potential for flooding. That’s where the KCFCD steps in – more specifically, the KCFCD works tirelessly before the heavy rains come to protect life and reduce flood risk for area homes, businesses, and infrastructure.

Let’s kick-off this first blog by sharing some background information to help familiarize you with the KCFCD.

What is the KCFCD?

The KCFCD is a countywide special purpose district created in 2007 to provide flood risk reduction capital projects and programs in service to 40 jurisdictions, including King County (County) and 39 municipalities. It important to note that the KCFCD is a separate government from the County even though the names are similar and the members of the King County Council also serve as the KCFCD’s governing body, known as the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors elects four members of the Board to serve on the KCFCD’s Executive Committee, which develops policy recommendations for consideration by the full Board, approves contracts for goods and services up to $100,000, develops and approves staffing and personnel policies related to administration of the KCFCD, and oversees the day-to-day business of the KCFCD. The Executive Committee members are Reagan Dunn, Chair; Sarah Perry, Vice Chair, Pete von Reichbauer, and Dave Upthegrove.

What does the KCFCD do?

Vision: Building a future to withstand flood risks where thriving King County communities and healthy ecosystems coexist in harmony with area rivers.

Mission: Implementing flood risk reduction policies and projects to protect life and property while advancing various benefits including equity and social justice, sustainable livelihoods, habitat protection, salmon recovery, recreation, and resilient communities.

The KCFCD is a lean and efficiently run government overseen by the Board of Supervisors and run by a staff of three. I serve as the Executive Director, and I am supported by Steven Schauer, Deputy Executive Director, and Russell Pethel, Administrator/Clerk.

Together, we strive to achieve KCFCD’s Vision and Mission by taking a comprehensive policy approach focused on integrated flood and floodplain management principles. Additionally, the KCFCD is the primary funding source for improving the County’s existing aging and inadequate flood protection facilities and implementing multi-benefit flood risk reduction facilities along six major river systems flowing through King County (South Fork Skykomish, Snoqualmie, Sammamish, Cedar, Green, and White rivers) and their significant tributaries (Tolt, Raging, Miller, and Greenwater rivers).

King County Watersheds Map
King County Watersheds Map

The County is the largest service provider to the KCFCD. The Water and Land Resources and Capital Projects divisions of the County’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks implements most of the flood risk reduction projects and programs approved by KCFCD’s Board of Supervisors. Through interlocal agreements, other local jurisdictions, such as the cities of Bellevue, Kent, Renton, Seattle, and Snoqualmie, are also service providers to the KCFCD implementing flood protection projects and programs.

How does the KCFCD protect life and property?

The KCFCD collects over $58 million in tax revenue annually. The 2024 budget, which was unanimously passed by the KCFCD Board of Supervisors in November 2023 without increasing taxes, provides $131 million in funding for critical flood protection projects across King County.

Jan Road Levee Setback Project

Since the KCFCD’s inception in 2007, KCFCD funds have reduced the risk of levee and revetment failures by completing high priority capital improvement projects for flood protection facilities – over 370 capital projects have been completed or are in process! KCFCD also funds operations and maintenance for over 500 flood protection facilities throughout King County covering 119 linear miles and approximately 800 acres of land managed for flood mitigation purposes.

Additionally, KCFCD funds the management of repetitive loss area mitigation coordination, including projects (e.g., buying or elevating at-risk homes), public outreach, flood hazard management planning, and grant preparation. Ongoing updates to existing FEMA floodplain maps and other technical studies and mapping projects such as channel migration zone delineation and mapping, channel monitoring, gravel removal studies and analysis, risk assessments, hydraulic modeling, and landslide hazard mapping in areas that may intersect major river floodplains are also funded by the KCFCD.

To prepare and educate citizens for flood events, the KCFCD funds a comprehensive approach to flood preparedness and the development of valuable tools including the Be Flood Ready Brochure, which is available in 24 languages. The KCFCD also supports some important activities during flood events, such as funding operations at the King County Flood Warning Center. It’s important to note, first responders and other emergency services are funded and provided by the County and other local jurisdictions during a flood event. Residents can contact the Flood Warning Center for up-to-date information and resources during a storm at 206-296-8200 or 800-945-9263.

Finally, the KCFCD also provides over $30 million annually in grant funds. This includes grants to support Water Resource Inventory Area salmon recovery and riverine habitat restoration, localized flooding and surface water needs not associated with King County’s major rivers, and other local flood reduction improvements, stormwater control improvements, and watershed management activities.

Be'er Shiva Park

Stay Informed, Stay Safe

In addition to our new weekly blog, the KCFCD’s revised website is a treasure trove of information. Here you can find flood risk maps, sign up for flood alerts, learn how to prepare for flooding, and find information about KCFCD’s projects and grants.

By working together, we can ensure a safer future for communities throughout King County. Remember, a little preparation can go a long way when it comes to flood protection! So, please take some time to explore the KCFCD’s resources and prepare for whatever the weather throws our way. And don’t forget to follow the KCFCD’s social media channels (X: @KCFloodDistrict and Facebook: facebook.com/KCFloodDistrict) and weekly blog for more useful information.