The King Conservation District has developed a comprehensive set of services to assist farmers with maintaining and improving agricultural drainage systems. Our aim is to enable more farmers to participate in the King County Agricultural Drainage Assistance Program (ADAP) through a combination of technical assistance, matching grants, and enabling farmers to complete their own drainage maintenance. In addition, we conducted a county-wide assessment of drainage needs as the basis for future planning.
KCD was awarded King County Flood Control District funding to implement a long-term program to mitigate the impact of flooding on farmland. In 2015 and 2016 KCD collaborated with King County Water & Land Resources Division to clear more than five miles of blocked drainage channels that had caused flooding on farms in the Snoqualmie Valley, Sammamish Valley and the Enumclaw Plateau. The drainage projects enabled participating farmers to put into production 128 aces that had been too wet to farm, and enhanced production on an additional 481 acres.
In addition to implanting major drainage projects, over the past two years KCD conducted farmer surveys to quantify drainage needs across King County. A total of 135 farmers responded to the surveys, reporting an estimated 3,239 acres impacted by poor drainage. Survey data is being used as the basis for program planning.
The KCD Agricultural Drainage Program is continuing to expand in 2017. Site surveys and permitting are underway for several King County farmers, and projects will be implemented between June and September.
Our goal is to assist farmers with expanding agricultural production. King County has an estimated 1,837 farms on 46,717 acres of land, with annual sales of $121 million. Over the past few decades, however, much of the county’s best farmland has become impacted by poor field drainage, and the threat has been compounded by rapid urbanization, which promotes increased stormwater runoff. More than 300 acres of once productive land are now deemed “too wet to farm,” and production is diminished on hundreds of additional acres.
Improved field drainage will increase productivity by extending the growing season, enabling the planting of higher value crops, and expanding grazing for livestock. Improved drainage will also provide an opportunity for increased agricultural employment, enhance local food production, and contribute to the continued growth, vitality and resilience of local agriculture.
Ben Axt, KCD Project Coordinator, facilitates farmer participation in agricultural drainage projects in collaboration with King County and construction contractors. The King County Agricultural Drainage Assistance Program (ADAP) provides project engineering and design, permitting, fish relocation as needed, silt control, and post-construction buffer planting. The King Conservation District assists farmers with construction costs and project oversight. Our goal is to improve at least 4,000 linear feet of agricultural drainage channels per year.
To learn more about the KCD Agricultural Drainage Program contact Ben Axt: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there are more farmer requests for matching grants than funds available, the District will rank projects using the following criteria:
Information about the King County Agricultural Drainage Assistance Program is available via the link below:
King County Agricultural Drainage Assistance Program
Click on the link below for photos and details on a recent agricultural drainage project at Goose & Gander Farm:
As the first step in implementing the new King Conservation District Drainage Program, KCD collaborated with King County Stormwater Services and the Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance on an assessment of drainage problems in King County. Of the landowners who responded to our survey, 70% said their operations are impacted by poor drainage. Major problems identified by the landowners were the accumulation of sediment and vegetation in drainage ditches, and flooding caused by beaver dams blocking drainage channels. The survey also showed that many landowners are impacted by poor drainage on neighboring properties. Click on the link below for a preliminary report on the survey:
Snoqualmie Valley Agricultural Drainage Survey