Congressional delegation secures $220 million for fish passage on the Green River, TPU’s primary drinking water source

Howard Hanson Dam project will support salmon and orca recovery

Tacoma Public Utilities’ (TPU) Federal delegation led by U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Representatives Kim Schrier, Derek Kilmer, Marilyn Strickland and Adam Smith secured $220 million in funding to complete design and begin construction of downstream fish passage at the Howard Hanson Dam on the Green River, TPU’s primary source of drinking water. The funding for Howard Hanson represents one of the largest allocations to an Army Corps of Engineers project under the federal bipartisan infrastructure law.

Howard Hanson Dam is a multi-purpose project operated by the Army Corps on the Green River. The Green River continues to serve as Tacoma Water’s primary drinking water source and a key supply resource to hundreds of thousands of residents in Pierce and King counties.

Downstream fish passage at Howard Hanson will help ensure additional drinking water storage to meet future regional needs, while reopening tens of miles of important salmon and steelhead habitat that will increase salmon production, critical for recovery of Southern Resident orcas. The State of Washington’s Lead Entity for salmon recovery in the Green and Duwamish rivers believes that completing Howard Hanson downstream fish passage will approximately double the available habitat for endangered salmon and steelhead in the Green-Duwamish watershed and could be the largest single opportunity to increase salmon production in Puget Sound.

“As the local sponsor of this effort, TPU appreciates the broad bipartisan and regional support for a critical water supply and salmon restoration project that directly benefits our customers,” said Jackie Flowers director of utilities for Tacoma Public Utilities. “We are grateful for the support of the delegation and our tribal partners in helping us reach this important milestone. Downstream fish passage at Howard Hanson Dam is one of the most immediate and effective ways to positively impact salmon and orca populations in our region, and we look forward to working with our congressional delegation and the Army Corps on its construction.”

“My job is to make sure the federal government understands that local priorities like the Howard Hanson Dam need to be federal priorities—today the Biden administration is getting the message loud and clear,” said Senator Patty Murray. “This funding will go a long way in our fight to save the salmon, opening up miles of critical habitat. Not only will this money make an important difference as we work to recover our iconic salmon runs and honor our tribal treaty obligations, it will help get clean drinking water to people across Puget Sound and help protect the region from flooding. This is a big victory for the Muckleshoot Tribe, our salmon and orca, the entire Puget Sound, and all of Washington state.”

“$220 million for the Howard Hanson Dam fish passage facility is a huge down payment for a project that will reopen at least 60 miles of prime salmon and steelhead habitat above the Dam, nearly doubling the amount of habitat that is available. Constructing this fish passage facility will help restore endangered salmon and steelhead, including Chinook,” said Senator Maria Cantwell.

“I am thrilled to hear that the downstream fish passage project at Howard Hanson Dam is slated for a whopping $220M in infrastructure funding. I’ve been working with stakeholders across the 8th district to ensure this critical project be included in funding from our infrastructure package,” said Rep. Kim Schrier. “This stands to do more for Chinook salmon populations than any other project to date. And that is something Washingtonians care deeply about.”

“One of the many reasons I voted to support the new bipartisan infrastructure law was to make real progress on longstanding priorities in our region – including significant infrastructure projects like the Howard Hanson Dam,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer. “I’m thrilled that today, the Biden Administration has announced a critical new investment in moving this project forward – something I’ve advocated for as a member of the House Appropriations Committee. This new federal investment will help ensure our region has the drinking water storage capacity we need to serve the citizens of Tacoma, continue to protect the Green River Valley from flooding, and help advance the ongoing work of reopening prime habitat for salmon and steelhead populations – which will also support the endangered Southern Resident orca population. It does all of this while ensuring that the cost of this project doesn’t fall on Washington taxpayers alone. It’s an exciting day for our region!”

“Construction of the Fish Passage Facility and Additional Water Storage Project at Howard Hanson Dam is instrumental to the future of our region,” said Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland. “It opens up dozens of miles of critically needed salmon habitat and increases clean water supply for communities in Pierce County. I have been advocating for this project for over a decade, and I am delighted to see the Biden Administration’s recognition of the importance of this project through $220 million in dedicated funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the Administration to complete this project.”

“I am thrilled that funding made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is being dedicated to the Howard Hanson Dam in Washington State – a crucial development for the Puget Sound region. This funding will enable a multi-benefit infrastructure project that will increase water storage capacity, manage flood risk, and restore the surrounding ecosystem,” said Representative Adam Smith.Importantly, these investments will advance work on the downstream fish passage facility for migrating salmon and steelhead populations, which also support the endangered Southern Resident orca population – a major priority for Washington state. I look forward to the completion of this project, which will benefit the wildlife and communities of our region for generations to come.”

In addition to the positive impacts on regional salmon populations, the funding will increase municipal and industrial drinking water supply to Tacoma Public Utilities and maintain dam performance to support the primary drinking water needs for Tacoma Water customers.

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