The Skagit Risk is published by the Skagit County Public Works Department and contains important information to help Skagit County residents prepare for and respond to flooding situations. If you live in a potential flood area (see page 4 and 5) please keep this publication in an easy-to-find location in your home, farm or business.
Skagit County has a long history of flooding. In the past 100 years, the Skagit River has exceeded flood stage more than 28 times. In November of 1990 and 1995, rains from warm Pacific storms, coupled with high mountain snow pack turned the region into a federally declared disaster area.
Even those living well outside of the designated flood plains are not immune to flooding.
Major highways and railroads would be closed in the event of a significant flood. Interstate 5, State Routes 20, 9, and 536 lie in the Skagit River Flood plain. Interstate 5 alone is utilized by 65,000 vehicles a day. 23,000 commuter trips are made daily to and from Anacortes on Highway 20. In 1995, the railroad bridge between Burlington and Mount Vernon was undermined and was closed for two weeks at a cost of millions to Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
Municipal infrastructure would be in jeopardy during a 100-year flood. The municipal waste water treatment plants in Burlington and Mount Vernon, serving more than 15,000 homes and businesses, would be under water and could be down for weeks costing millions to get back on line, as well as creating a significant health risk.
Most of Burlington's and 40% of Mount Vernon's sewage collection system would be damaged or destroyed during a major flood. It could take months to restore normal operations.
The Anacortes Water Treatment Plant located in the Riverbend area near Mount Vernon is in serious jeopardy by any flood exceeding the 40-year level. Flooding could put it out of operation for up to 45 days, shutting off the primary source of water for both refineries on March Point, the cities of Anacortes, La Conner, Oak Harbor, NAS Whidbey and significant portion of Skagit Public Utility District #1. Flood fight operations went into effect at the plant in both 1990 and 1995 with major sandbagging efforts.
106,000 people live in Skagit County with approximately 30,000 living in the flood plain. In the past 100 years, population growth has steadily climbed from 14,272 in 1900 to 102,979 in 2000. Projections of future growth could take that number has high as 140,000 by 2020.