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U.S. Senate approves $44 million for Hanson Dam repairs; bill now goes to House

The U.S. Senate passed a bill July 22 that includes $44 million for repairs at the Howard Hanson Dam that helps protect the Green River Valley from flooding. - Charles Cortes, Kent Reporter
The U.S. Senate passed a bill July 22 that includes $44 million for repairs at the Howard Hanson Dam that helps protect the Green River Valley from flooding.
— image credit: Charles Cortes, Kent Reporter

The U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent a $60 billion emergency supplemental spending bill July 22 that includes $44 million to repair the Howard Hanson Dam that helps protect the Green River Valley from flooding.

The bill now goes back to the House for consideration. The House is expected to consider the bill soon because Congress is scheduled to take its August recess Aug. 9 to Sept. 12.

If the House approves the bill, it would go to President Obama to sign.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would receive the $44 million to help extend a grout curtain as a temporary fix for the next several years as engineers design and construct a permanent fix to stop a leak through a damaged abutment next to the Hanson Dam.

The corps plans to add 650 feet in length to the grout curtain installed last fall to help protect the cities of Kent, Auburn, Renton and Tukwila from Green River flooding.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., announced the passage of the bill in a July 23 media release.

“This is an investment in the safety of homes and businesses in one of the most economically vital regions of our state – the Green River Valley,” Murray said. “I’ve worked hard to secure the funding for the corps to conduct critical repairs because a flood in the valley would have devastating impacts that would ripple throughout Washington state.

“I have heard from the entire Green River Valley community and I’m proud to have secured this funding, and see it pass the Senate. With this vote, we are one step closer to repairing the dam and giving the families and business owners of the Green River Valley the peace of mind they deserve.”

Storms in January 2009 weakened the Hanson Dam.

Col. Anthony Wright, commander of the Seattle district of the Army Corps, said last spring that the expanded grout curtain would allow the corps to store more water in the Eagle Gorge reservoir behind the dam and could return the odds of flooding in the Green River Valley to the 1 in 140 chance when the dam operates at full capacity.

The risk of flooding last winter sat at a 1 in 33 chance because the leak in the abutment reduced the storage capacity behind the dam. A lack of heavy rainstorms kept the dam and giant sandbags added to levees from being tested.

The Senate passed the initial emergency supplemental spending bill in May. The House added $20 billion to the original bill, including money to help prevent teacher layoffs, according to the Wall Street Journal. But the Senate rejected the House version July 22 before sending the $60 billion package back to the House.

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