KCD provides comprehensive 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 and matching grants. In addition, we conducted a county-wide assessment of drainage needs as the basis for future planning.
King County Flood Control District awarded funds to KCD to implement agricultural drainage projects in collaboration with the King County Water & Land Resources Division. Our goal is to mitigate the impact of flooding on farms. Since 2015 KCD and King County assisted 31 farmers in the Snoqualmie valley, Sammamish valley and Enumclaw plateau with clearing nearly 8 miles of blocked drainage channels. The projects enabled participating farmers to put 151 acres back into production that had been too wet to farm, and enhanced production on an additional 660 acres.
In addition to implementing major drainage projects, 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.
Site surveys and permitting are underway for several King County farmers with projects being 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 increases stormwater runoff.
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.
KCD’s Program Coordinator facilitates farmer participation in agricultural drainage projects in collaboration with King County and construction contractors. King County’s ADAP provides project engineering and design, permitting, fish relocation as needed, silt control, and post-construction buffer planting. KCD 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.
If there are more farmer requests for matching grants than funds available, KCD will rank projects using the following criteria:
- Increased acres in food production
- Increased productivity of current commercial farms
- Multiple farms benefited
- Total acreage impacted
- Cost/benefit ratio of linear feet to acres drained
- Farmer committed to project implementation and maintenance.
Information about the King County Agricultural Drainage Assistance Program is available via the link below:
Click on links to our Facebook page below for photos and details on KCD agricultural drainage projects:
Agricultural Drainage Needs Assessment
As the first step in implementing KCD’s 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.