Plan reapproached for Deschutes River erosion reduction efforts at Pioneer Park


A project seeking to reduce erosion and improve habitat conditions at Pioneer Park’s shoreline has been extended.

As part of their consent agenda, Tumwater City Council authorized Mayor Debbie Sullivan on Monday, July 31, to sign an amended contract with engineering firm Stantec, which is designing the project.      

The new contract extended the contractor’s terms until the end of 2027 and added $49,955 to the contract amount, bringing it to a total of $203,699.

Documents prepared for the meeting showed that a portion of Pioneer Park’s shoreline is rapidly eroding, conveying around 2,380 cubic yards of fine sediment into the Deschutes River every year. The shoreline’s conditions endanger the river’s water quality and the life of coho salmon, which passes through Deschutes.

Early last year, the city received a $338,086 grant from the Department of Ecology (Ecology) to design and construct a solution that would stabilize the riverbank. The project was given a three-year timeline to complete by October 2024, but it now requires additional elements after several meetings with stakeholders.

Original plans

The city originally planned on building behind the river bank to avoid needing permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), since any project that would have anything constructed on the Deschutes River would require a review by USACE that would have taken two years, which was beyond the project’s timeline.

Original designs include 16 log structures to slow down the flow of the river and the planting of trees and shrubs along the river bank.

The city brought these plans to its stakeholders early this year, but it was the consensus that the project was not doing enough. Stakeholders include Ecology, the Squaxin Island Tribe, Thurston Conservation District, Puget Sound Partnership, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the City of Olympia.

“Ultimately, we were returned with a not approved consensus,” Environmental Consultant Meredith Greer explained to the Tumwater Public Works Committee on July 20.

“The group felt that there wasn't enough in this approach that would help to restore normal river functions. Because we weren't doing any water work, we're relying a lot more on stabilization efforts and things that didn't necessarily have as many co-benefits for things like salmon habitat,” Greer said.

New plans

The city will now focus on a multi-benefit design solution to increase the biological complexity of the river. This approach involves natural solutions to replicate how rivers normally function.

City staff did not have specific design plans during their July 20 presentation, but Water Resources and Sustainability Director Dan Smtih said that additional elements to the project include the construction of revetments and the possible re-channeling of river flow. Greer added that they would be taking a more comprehensive look at the project instead of just looking at one section of the river’s shoreline.

The grant agreement with Ecology has already been modified to only cover the project's design aspect. City staff would apply for another grant later this fall to fund the construction.

The timeline for the grant agreement was also extended until 2027 to allow for the review timeline required by USACE.


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