Need for improved

Management & Funding

"Diking Project Reclaims 700 Acres" newspaper article from 1917 when drainage districts are first established
Newspaper article from the early 1920s as landowners construct initial levees.

FRAGMENTED RESPONSIBILITY & OLD STRUCTURES HAVE BEEN INCREASING OUR RISK

Four local drainage districts have been responsible for operating and maintaining the levee system along the Columbia River since the 1930s. Although they’ve done the best they can, the drainage districts were put in place to drain the land for agricultural purposes, not to manage a large urban flood control system. Managing this infrastructure under the same legal framework put in place over a century ago, has created a number of challenges, including:

  • it's highly inefficient
    four separate drainage districts are not needed to manage one infrastructure system
  • it's unsustainable
    the drainage districts were not set up to manage a large urban flood safety system and have not been able to meet shifting federal safety standards
  • it's inequitable
    the current funding structure is very limited and does not account for all services delivered or benefit received
  • it's outdated
    the management of the infrastructure is separated from the health of the natural landscape around it
  • it's exclusive
    the way leadership is elected is antiquated and leaves people out of the process
"Diking Project Reclaims 700 Acres" newspaper article from 1917 when drainage districts are first established
Newspaper article from the early 1920s as landowners construct initial levees.

More efficient, modern, and equitable management and funding structures are needed to overcome these challenges

After several years of  research and discussion, the LRC partners have worked with local state legislators to introduce legislation to reform and modernize the way the local levee system is managed and to make a more robust set of financial tools available to support the system going forward. Their proposal, Senate Bill 431, is currently under consideration by the 2019 Legislative Assembly.

The new management structure has been designed to:

  • Meet long-term flood safety needs and shifting federal standards;
  • Create a less fragmented framework for management and decision-making
  • Provide for a more equitable distribution of costs based on services and benefits received;
  • Allow for improved environmental stewardship along the levees and drainageways, which is currently prohibited under the drainage district structure; and
  • Create a more democratic and transparent selection process for board members in which significantly more people have a voice.

Hear more about the proposal from our convener, Jules Bailey, during his testimony to the Senate Committee on Environment & Natural Resources on February 19, 2019:

Learn even more about Senate Bill 431:

Find out more about:

what else would be possible with improved funding and oversight structures

More opportunities

Our partners in the Columbia Slough Watershed

Learn who they are

Find out how you can help

Get involved