In three short years, the WA state legislature has provided nearly $80M in funding to support 29 innovative “floodplains by design” projects across the state – all aimed at making our communities safer and our rivers healthier.  These projects are on the cutting edge of a smarter, new floodplain management paradigm – one in which communities work in a more collaborative manner to manage their rivers and floodplains to produce multiple benefits for a broad cross section of society.

On January 29, 2016 the state Department of Ecology received 56 pre-proposals for the next round of Floodplains by Design grant funding.  These pre-proposals, from communities spanning the entire state, seek state funding implement an ambitious but important body of projects with a combined price tag of approximately $280M.  Ecology has invited 35 project proponents – counties, cities, tribes, conservation districts, and non-profit organizations – to submit full proposals by July 1, with an estimated state funding request of approximately $138M.  This fall, Ecology will include a subset of these – a prioritized list of the most compelling, highest impact projects – in its 2017-19 biennial state budget request.  Two important themes emerged from this body of proposed project work.

First, the demand for this relatively new funding program is strong.  With the influx of $80M in new project funding over the last three years, one may have expected floodplain managers to be overwhelmed by project implementation.  Instead, it is clear that there is a large demand for funding, as current requests far exceed past funding levels.  The Floodplains by Design partnership, led by Ecology, Puget Sound Partnership and The Nature Conservancy, has estimated that there is demand for $1 billion in funding over the next decade.

Second, floodplain managers have rapidly adapted to the more collaborative, multiple benefits-driven approach advanced by FbD.  The pre-proposals received this year where difficult to review because of their strength.  “Decisions this year were particularly tough,” said Gordon White, who oversees the program at Ecology.  “These projects are designed to address very real disaster risks and environmental challenges.  How do you decide to not fund efforts that could have a lasting impact on the wellbeing of our State’s communities, cultures, economy and quality of life?”

Stay tuned for updates on the 2017-19 budget and funding for these projects.

Floodplains by Design is a public-private partnership led by:

For more information, contact: INFO@FLOODPLAINSBYDESIGN.ORG