Reducing Flood Risk: A Look Back at Completed Flood Mitigation Projects

Steven SchauerUncategorized

By Steven Schauer, Deputy Executive Director and King County Staff

The King County Flood Control District (KCFCD) has been working diligently since its creation in 2007 to safeguard our communities from flooding. The KCFCD, in collaboration with King County, has spearheaded over 370 capital projects aimed at mitigating the risk of levee and revetment failures. These projects, along with the operation and maintenance of over 500 flood protection facilities, cover 118 linear miles and approximately 800 acres of land crucial for flood mitigation.

While the KCFCD’s weekly blog typically shares information about new and ongoing projects, each month, we will shine a spotlight on a completed project that is quietly doing its job to safeguard our community against the threat of flooding. The project we’re covering this month is the Jan Road Levee Setback Project near Maple Valley.

Jan Road Levee Setback Project

Jan Road Levee Setback Project: Improving Flood Safety and Habitat

The Jan Road Levee Setback Project was an important initiative located along the Cedar River’s left and right banks in unincorporated King County, approximately one mile northwest of the State Route 18 and State Route 169 interchange. This completed project plays a significant role in reducing flood and erosion risks and improving riverine habitat while safeguarding the local community, property, and infrastructure.

The project was completed in 2022, and it has already garnered recognition by winning the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Best in State – Silver Award in 2204. The completed project site has also provided a training opportunity for future environmental science professionals.

Project Goals

The Jan Road Levee Setback Project was completed in 2022 and it addressed several critical objectives:

Flood Risk Reduction: The project reduces overall flood-related risks to people, property, and infrastructure, including the Jan Road Levee, the Cedar River Trail, and State Route 169.

Enhanced Infrastructure: Ensuring that new flood protection structures, such as levees and revetments, meet current engineering standards to minimize long-term management costs.

Mitigation Efforts: Providing all required mitigation for the 2017 Cedar River wood relocation efforts.

Environmental Improvement: Improving natural riverine and riparian processes, functions, and habitats, which are crucial for the ecological health of the Cedar River and its salmon populations.

Why This Project Matters

“The Jan Road Levee Setback Project exemplifies a balanced approach to flood management – one that protects human life and property while also enhancing the natural environment,” said Reagan Dunn, KCFCD Chair. “By addressing both immediate flood risks and long-term ecological health, the King County Flood Control District and our partner, King County, are leading the way for a safer and more resilient community.” In addition to being the KCFCD’s Chair, Supervisor Dunn represents District 9, which includes the area of King County where the Jan Road Levee Setback Project was implemented.

Supervisor Reagan Dunn
Reagan Dunn, Chair

The project area encompasses a neighborhood primarily accessible via a single roadway – S.E. 197th Place, 221st Avenue S.E., and 218th Avenue S.E., commonly referred to as “Jan Road.” This area is also adjacent to the Rutledge-Johnson Levee Partial Levee Removal Project, which focuses on both flood risk reduction and habitat restoration. The planning and analysis of the Jan Road Levee Setback Project were closely coordinated with the Rutledge-Johnson project to ensure mutual enhancement of their benefits.

Flooding has been a recurring issue in the Jan Road neighborhood, with significant events occurring as recently as February 2020 and January 2009. Overflow from Taylor Creek has historically led to hazardous conditions, cutting off the neighborhood’s only access road and damaging property. In the event of a 100-year flood (a flood with a 1% chance of occurring in any given year), road access could be lost for up to 15 single-family homes.

The old levee system also funneled water towards the Cedar River Trail Site 7 Revetment, which protects the Cedar River Trail and State Route 169. Erosion of this revetment posed a threat to these critical infrastructures, potentially leading to costly repairs. Additionally, the old levee disconnected the river from its floodplain, eliminating flood storage areas and habitats essential for raising healthy salmon populations.

Jan Road Levee Setback Project off-channel habitat feature

Accomplishing Our Vision

The vision of the KCFCD is, “Building a future to withstand flood risks where thriving King County communities and healthy ecosystems coexist in harmony with area rivers.” The Jan Road Levee Setback Project represents a critical step forward in meeting our vision given the project’s comprehensive approach to flood management. The project addressed the persistent flooding issues that have plagued this neighborhood for years. Additionally, by redirecting water away from vulnerable infrastructures like the Cedar River Trail Site 7 Revetment and reconnecting the river to its floodplain, the project mitigates potential damage to the Cedar River Trail and State Route 169, while fostering a healthier environment for salmon and other wildlife.

Since completion of the project, the site has also served the broader community as a training ground for future environmental science professionals. Students from Seattle University worked closely with King County staff to monitor and measure how effectively the project is meeting its intended goals.

In accomplishing all of this, the Jan Road Levee Setback Project underscores our commitment to mitigating flood risk by building resilient and sustainable communities.