Programs > Farm Management Services > Agricultural Drainage Program

King Conservation District
Agricultural Drainage Program

streamThe King Conservation District has developed a set of services to assist landowners with maintaining and improving agricultural drainage systems. Our aim is to enable more landowners to participate in the King County Agricultural Drainage Assistance Program (ADAP) through a combination of technical assistance and matching grants. In addition, we have conducted a county-wide assessment of drainage needs to guide 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 the summers of 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 landowners to put into production 149 aces that had been too wet to farm, and enhanced production on an additional 458 acres.

backhoe clearing drainage ditchIn addition to implanting major drainage projects, KCD also conducted a landowner survey to quantify drainage needs across King County. A total of 135 landowners responded to the survey, 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 will continue in 2017. Site surveys and permitting are underway for several King County landowners and projects will be implemented between June and September.

Our goal is to assist landowners 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 much of the county’s best farmland has been impacted by poor field drainage, however, and the threat has been compounded by rapid urbanization which promotes increased stormwater runoff. More than 600 acres of once productive land are now deemed “too wet to farm,” and production is diminished on thousands of additional acres.

katie PenckeFarmers need help maintaining drainage ditches, culverts, and tile systems. Improved field drainage increases productivity by extending the growing season, enabling the planting of higher value crops, and expanding grazing for livestock. Improved drainage also provides an opportunity to increase agricultural employment, enhance local food production, and contribute to the continued growth, vitality, and resilience of local agriculture.

Ben Axt, KCD Project Coordinator, facilitates landowner 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 landowners 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: ben.axt@kingcd.org

If there are more landowner 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
www.kingcounty.gov/environment/waterandland/stormwater/agricultural-drainage-assistance.aspx

Agricultural Drainage Needs Assessment
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. poor drainage impacts local farms graphOf 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


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