WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — The offices of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier John Horgan issued a press release today, Tuesday, March 15th, announcing new cooperative endeavors in addressing Nooksack River flooding and flooding response.
According to the press release, the announcement follows the catastrophic flooding that occurred beginning mid-November 2021. That flooding disaster “displaced an estimated 500 people in Whatcom County, led to the evacuation of over 14,000 people in B.C., and resulted in billions of dollars in damage across B.C.”
“Washington state and British Columbia have a unique role to play in addressing the urgent challenge of Nooksack River flooding,” Inslee said. “Flooding will continue to worsen in the face of population growth, development and climate change, and this challenge is bigger and more urgent than any level of government can solve on its own. Long-term, sustainable solutions will require resources from all levels of government on both sides of our border, and we are committed to working together to leverage input and significant expertise from impacted communities.”
Washington state and B.C. officials will begin initial engagement and process planning this month. They will work with First Nations, Tribal and local governments, and stakeholders to identify the areas that need coordinated work, and develop the governance structure and work plan. The two governments will announce the details of the Nooksack transboundary flooding initiative this spring.
“We are proud to coordinate with our Washington neighbours on devastating flooding from the Nooksack watershed,” said Premier Horgan. “There is tremendous expertise on both sides of the border and our work will bring together the necessary resources and the relevant experts to help identify, evaluate, and advance solutions so that all adjacent communities are better prepared for the inevitable impacts of extreme weather caused by climate change.”
Following a period of initial engagement and process planning, Inslee and Horgan intend for this transboundary initiative to drive the design of projects and programs and identify sources of funding. The initiative will build upon local efforts on both sides of the border and seek to protect public infrastructure, farms, salmon and related ecosystems, as well as communities both upriver and downriver, particularly those disproportionately impacted by flooding.Joint press release from the offices of Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier John Horgan (March 15, 2022)
BC has budgeted $1.5 billion over the next 3 years for recovery support for people and communities impacted by the floods.
The Washington State Legislature approved $750,000 for staffing and technical support for flood planning, $600,000 for disaster assistance to Whatcom County farmers and ranchers, $2 million for Nooksack River flood mitigation and $2 million for the Nooksack Valley School District to respond to flood damage and future flood risks.