Washington governor allocates more money for culvert remediation

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee has ordered the state’s Department of Transportation to set aside USD 175 million (EUR 156.5 million) for culvert repairs to aid the state’s salmon population.

A federal judge in 2013 ordered Washington state to fix its culverts, the under-roadway pipes that block migrating fish, but this year’s state budget allocated only USD 100 million (EUR 89.4 million) to the project.

Inslee directed the department to supplement the USD 100 million allotted in the budget by using funding from projects that they overestimated the expense of, from which they had money left over. 

“The fate of our salmon is intrinsically tied to our tribes, our orca, our economy and our very identity,” Inslee’s statement said. “That’s why I am directing my Department of Transportation to immediately ramp up its culvert repair program and I am using budget flexibility provided by the legislature to increase culvert repair spending to USD 275 million [EUR 245.9 million] in the next biennium."

There are an estimated 2,000 culverts statewide and Washington has already fixed culverts on land owned by the state Department of Parks and Department of Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife, but the culverts on land belonging to the state Department of Transportation are proving to be more difficult and expensive to fix, as they can sometimes run under busy and populated areas such as highways.

"This is just a one-time down payment on the multi-billion dollar tab legislators left unpaid,” the governor said. "Let me be crystal clear: this does not solve the problem. This does not get us off the hook. We need to get this fixed next year. I fully expect legislators to give this issue the serious consideration it deserves when they return next session and deliver an adequate and ongoing funding plan to get this job done."

Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor of Washington


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