Diking Commissioners Tim Schmitz, Mike Linn and Tom Bosch are submitting an application for a Department of Ecology grant to strengthen and raise portions of the dike. Local sources must provide 20 percent of the project funds, and the grant would cover the other 80 percent. The commissioners said they are committing $10,000 to the project, and they asked Wahkiakum County commissioners to contribute another $10,000. With an additional in-kind match of $2,500 for administrative services, this would bring the total project to $112,500.
"It would help us significantly improve that dike," Linn said. "I see it in the long run as a cost saving measure."
Schmitz explained that the district has been working as hard as it can with its $23,000 annual budget to address the problems which the portion of the town around the fairgrounds experienced in the floods of 1996, 2006 and 2009. The district has replaced a poorly functioning tidegate, and the new tidegate can drain lots of water, he said.
However, the dike, built in the 1940's and hardly maintained since then, has eroded in places and is easily breached in high water events. The next step is to raise the low spots, he said.
"This is a good opportunity for us," Schmitz said. "We really meet the criterion for the grant application.
"In a nutshell, we are a prime target for another flood event with the low spots we have."
County Public Works Director Pete Ringen supported the diking district request.
"I respect these gentlemen," he said. "I hope the board will stand behind their effort." He added that the County Flood Control Fund has money which could be dedicated to the project as the county's portion of the match.
County commissioners agreed and passed a motion to authorize the $10,000 expenditure.
Linn added that the funding program is a continuing program and the diking district could possibly use it for other dikes that need work.