$220M to design and construct a downstream fish passage on Howard Hanson dam benefits TPU customers and the environment

Framed by the pristine forests of the Green River watershed, Tacoma Public Utilities Director Jackie Flowers gathered with U.S. Senator Patty Murray, U.S. Representative Kim Schrier, representatives from the Muckleshoot tribe, and other regional leaders to celebrate the announcement of $220M from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to fund design and construction of a new downstream fish passage at the Howard Hanson Dam on the Green River.  

The project, which has broad regional support, marks one of the most significant investments into securing salmon recovery in the Puget Sound region while also increasing water storage capacity for Tacoma Public Utilities. “I don’t need to tell everyone here just how many challenges are facing our salmon—this is something we need to tackle from every angle,” said Senator Murray. “Wild salmon populations in Washington state are declining on the whole, threatening our ecosystems and our way of life. That’s why I fought so hard to build this critical fish passage at the Howard Hanson Dam and am working at the federal level to promote salmon recovery across the state.” 

The funding announcement is in response to a request from the bipartisan delegation of Washington’s federal legislators for the Army Corps of Engineers to provide funding for a downstream fish passage to aid in the recovery of salmon populations, a vital source of food for endangered Southern resident orcas. The project will increase municipal and industrial water supply for TPU customers through increased storage capacity, while maintaining the dam’s functionality for flood risk management. 

“Tacoma Public Utilities celebrates the federal government’s initial investment into our region’s environmental future,” said Director Flowers. “While more funding will be needed to get the project across the finish line, the broad regional support we see here at the Howard Hanson Dam today underlines the project’s critical importance to salmon and orca recovery, all while benefitting Tacoma Water customers.” 

The Green River Municipal Watershed has been Tacoma Water’s primary water supply since 1913. TPU works to properly manage our forest lands to ensure water quality and protect sensitive fish and wildlife species. The construction of a fish passage barrier at Howard Hanson Dam will ensure continued stewardship of this vital regional watershed. 

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