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Local agencies review Mill Creek study

MYCB photo of the Mill Creek channel by Dan Thesman

WALLA WALLA, Washington – The three-year general investigation study on the Mill Creek Flood Control is well underway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Walla Walla District is working in partnership with its non-federal sponsor, Walla Walla County, to analyze the overall flood risk Mill Creek poses to Walla Walla and surrounding communities.

According to the USACE, the age and deterioration of the project’s system of levees, concrete channel and infrastructure located above or alongside the channel are of great concern to the community of Walla Walla. Designed in the 1930s, a flood in 1996 damaged the levee portions of the system and damaged part of the concrete channel.

With all the talk about Mill Creek, Walla Walla County Board of Commissioner Chairman Todd Kimball said it’s that concrete channel that’s drawing a lot of interest.

“We have a lot of interests coming in saying we want this in the channel, we want more walkways along it,” he said. “You know, there is a lot of people that want to make it wider and make it more like a river-walk-like situation, and you know the main goal of the channel is flood control. That’s what the Corps is looking into. So if you want to do something on top of that like a walkway or something like that, you’re going to need to fund it somehow. The corps is not going to come in and do it.”

On Tuesday, a meeting was held at Walla Walla Community College with the USACE, the Mill Creek Coalition, Downtown Walla Walla Foundation, Port of Walla Walla, city of Walla Walla, Walla Walla County and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation to review the preferred plan and what it will accomplish.

“The Corps is obviously going to look into and see what’s feasible and what’s not,” Kimball said. “They will make the final decision on what the final plan is.”

With the some of the results coming in from the study, Kimball said the USACE is moving ahead of schedule.  With the USACE about a year into the process, Kimball said there are already plans and options.

“They jumped right in,” Kimball said of the Corps. “We’ve been talking about this for years, so it wasn’t like it was something new to their plate. I think they’ve been kind of looking into it for a while, what they could do without being formally involved in it. Once we started, they got both feet running and they’re going.”

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