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Volume 16, Issue 4
April 2018

NEWS HOME

Flooding in the Cedar Mill Creek watershed: moving toward an action plan

Last May, we learned that a coalition of interested parties was working toward a comprehensive approach to solving flooding in the Cedar Mill Creek and North Johnson Creek basin. Homeowners and businesses have been experiencing seasonal flooding for years, with some people losing significant portions of their yard to stream bank erosion, as well as flood damage to buildings.

The Cedar Mill Creek Flood Remediation Collaborative is a partnership of agencies, businesses, and other interested organizations in Washington County who have agreed to work together as a Project Team to address flood risks. Oregon Solutions, a group based at the National Policy Consensus Center at Portland State University, is guiding this effort by bringing many stakeholders together to better understand local flooding, and reach agreement on how we can work together to address these issues. Technical experts, who are helping to develop a thorough and collaborative way to address flood risks and improve drainage for this area, support the Project Team.

The group has been working since last summer to develop criteria and methods to address the situation. Goals are to create an approach that minimizes or mitigates flooding impacts while considering economic development, habitat value, and quality of life concerns. It will develop a plan that can be phased; identify funding sources; and consider how multiple agencies’ regulations can be addressed in a way that results in the greatest possible good for the public and for the ecosystem, i.e., a basin-wide assessment approach.

The effects and solutions for the Cedar Mill Creek watershed will be affected by the different segments of the watershed that are being examined.
The effects and solutions for the Cedar Mill Creek watershed will be affected by the different segments of the watershed that are being examined.

The final product of the Collaborative will be a signed Declaration of Cooperation. This document will outline the agreed-upon approach and the roles of the partners. County Commission Chair Andy Duyck, who is the Project Team Convenor, explained that the document will not be legally binding because the signers, some of whom are elected, might not be in office when the document is implemented.

A survey was conducted from November-December last year, asking residents to report their experiences with flooding. Over 115 responses were collected. Most community members who experience flooding reported one or two flood events per year; About 10 people reported six or more flood events per year. About a quarter of survey participants experienced property damage from flooding within the last 10 years. Many people associated flooding with increased development in the area.

Plans and a timeline were presented at the April 3 meeting. The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has been brainstorming ideas, some of which came from the public, and others from the group and outside experts that have been consulted. They created three “buckets” to categorize them. Some actions are “Recommended”—to move on in the first phase. Others “Need Further Consideration,” and some are “Not recommended at this time.” Documents presented at this meeting will be available on the cedarmillcreek.org website soon, if you’d like to find out the full list of considerations.

Community engagement is an important factor in the success of the program. This slide from the April 3 presentation lists some of the topics they'll discuss.
Community engagement is an important factor in the success of the program. This slide from the April 3 presentation lists some of the topics they'll discuss.

One of the Recommended measures is a technical assistance program focused on flood-proofing. This will be welcome news to the homeowners currently experiencing flooding. Others are public education programs. Some measures will result in the expansion of existing “flood storage” areas along the watershed, as well as the creation and of additional facilities.

Rocky Brown, Washington County Floodplain Manager, spoke about the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (CRS). This FEMA program gives credit that reduces flood insurance premiums to residents and businesses in jurisdictions that adopt flood mitigation measures. Currently the county and its cities do not participate. Brown recommended that we enter the system at a high level by implementing recommended policies. When we wrote about flooding back in April 2013, we were told that Beaverton and the county, “claim that they don’t have the personnel or budget to fully participate in the CRS at this time.” Five years and many floods later, it’s good to see something happening.

Phase II of the public engagement effort is beginning soon, and may include a self-guided tour so people can observe the situation firsthand. TAC subcommittees—Ecological Conditions and Process, Infrastructure and Land Use, Governance & Finance, and Regulatory—will continue to meet and further refine the approaches and report back to the Steering Committee.

Project Team meetings, which are open to the public, will be held on May 23 and June 5. Sign up for updates by filling out the brief form on the project website.

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