An Incomplete, Re-Engineered China Creek Faces First Big Test With November Rainstorm


It’s not the first big test the City of Centralia was hoping for, but it’ll be a test nonetheless.

With the region expected to get a few inches of rain over the tail end of this week, and with most of Western Washington under a flood watch advisory, a re-engineered China Creek will have its capacity tested in belated fashion.

Work started earlier this summer on Phase 2 of the China Creek Flood and Habitat Protection Project, located just off Gold Street. The project aims to mitigate substantial flooding in the downtown area while also improving fish passage.

Most of the $2.91 million project has been finished, save for a flood-control weir that retains water in a basin and improves flows into downtown. Since this structure wasn’t finished in time for flood season, city staff are “keeping an eye” on the creek and area to see the impacts, said Public Works Director Kim Ashmore.

Without consistent rainfall, the creek remains mostly dry during the summer months. On Tuesday, the city finally shut off a pump that had been diverting water from the creek since rain flows toppled a headwater pond, spilling into and flooding the creek.

“I’d really hoped we’d have been done with the project and could have been able to test it with this event. We’ll have it done next month,” Ashmore said.

City contractors are expecting a delivery of steel to finish the flood-control weir sometime in the next month or so, Ashmore said.

“Our hope is that we might get the steel in about four weeks. We’re hoping it’s not six,” he said.

As the region began experiencing an onslaught of heavy rain late this week, roadways around the Twin Cities became inundated with water. Lewis County Emergency Management late Thursday afternoon opened its self-serve sandbag station at 350 W. Main Street. Ashmore said they planned to open theirs along North Pearl Street, too.

“We’re keeping an eye on it, we’ve got crews out ... We’re prepared for whatever comes our way,” Ashmore said.