Rep. Richard DeBolt’s bill that would authorize $700 million in bonds to finance Chehalis Basin flood damage reduction and aquatic species habitat restoration projects passed the House of Representatives today.
As the state’s second-largest river drainage system, the Chehalis Basin’s history of flooding includes 18 floods in the last 20 years. DeBolt says the human suffering and environmental damage caused by flooding must be mitigated.
“For decades, our communities have suffered devastating losses,” said DeBolt. “After each event, along with the emotional impact, people have to find a way to rebuild their lives, homes and businesses. Rebuilding is a long, difficult process.”
Salmon and other fish are in trouble for a variety of reasons in the basin. Funding from DeBolt’s bill would be spent equally on both aquatic and wildlife restoration and flood prevention projects.
“The Chehalis Basin Strategy is our best opportunity to come together to halt and reverse the devastating decline of salmon and other aquatic species, and protect our communities and farmlands, from the predicted increase of flooding disasters,” said Jay Gordon, Chehalis Basin Board Member.
House Bill 1154 would help finance projects over 20 years with a dedicated account for taxable bond proceeds. The Legislature would approve projects that could be financed by the bonds prior to their sale.
DeBolt says the funding is extremely worthwhile when compared to the benefits that will be realized by the state’s investment.
“Not taking action costs more than investing in preventative measures now. By allowing this financing, the Legislature would make a bold statement about its interest in doing what’s right: taking the right steps to protect people and wildlife.”
The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to adjourn March 12.