Water photo

Water

Ecology’s role during a flood emergency

specialists do inspections by air and by road conduct damage 
	assessments.
Ecology floodplain specialists do inspections by air and by the road to conduct damage assessments.

When a flood occurs in Washington, Ecology’s floodplain specialists and Dam Safety Office staff work closely with local, state, tribal, and federal officials to assess the damage to flood control structures such as dikes, levees, and dams.

When major flood disasters are declared, Ecology works in partnership with other state and federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to collect damage and flood information, recommend where response equipment and materials should be placed, and help prepare requests for federal and state disaster assistance.

Washington Conservation Corps (WCC)

Ecology’s Washington Conservation Corps program is affiliated with the federal AmeriCorps Program. Our WCC members are stationed in communities across the state. Members receive special emergency training, including assisting during flood response.

WCC Crew filling sandbags.
Washington Conservation Corps crew stacks sandbags to divert flood waters.

During floods, WCC crews might stack sandbags, help residents get medical attention, set up emergency shelters, and remove downed trees and other debris.

Helping state Health Department pinpoint drinking water problems

The Washington Department of Health (DOH) is the lead state agency that oversees drinking water systems in our state. During floods, Ecology works with DOH to pinpoint communities where drinking water supplies might be contaminated by flood waters.

Oil spill and hazardous material response

Ecology responds to incidents that pose an immediate threat to public health and the environment. This includes responding to and helping clean up oil spills, fuel tanks, and abandoned containers that hold hazardous materials such as pesticides, fertilizers and toxic metals.

farm-chemical containers carried away by flood waters.
Spill team responds to incidents such as these farm-chemical containers carried away by flood waters.

Keep yourself safe and immediately report all oil and hazardous material spills and abandoned tanks or suspicious containers to Ecology at 1-800-OILS-911.

Monitoring water storage dams

Ecology’s Dam Safety Office monitors potential flood-related problems at more than 1,000 dams subject to state oversight. In some cases, Ecology will order local dam owners and operators to lower water levels to reduce the pressure behind a dam. This is done to protect human life, property, and environmental health.

Identifying underground storage tank problems

Ecology handles potential problems with underground storage tanks, particularly at gas and fueling stations affected by floods. Flood waters can cause underground tanks to break to the surface or inundate fuel tanks containing gasoline, diesel fuel and other petroleum products. Ecology helps businesses understand what they need to do to safely operate their storage tanks and locate contractors who can pump out water or repair damaged tanks.

A flooded gas station
A flooded gas station means possible leakage from an underground storage tank.

Managing solid waste and debris

After floods and severe storms, communities, businesses, and homeowners often must cope with damaged dwellings, downed trees, and other potential problems related to handling non-hazardous solid waste.

Floods also can interrupt highway traffic and rail lines. When this happens, Ecology works with local communities and businesses to help find solutions for managing and disposing debris in ways that are environmentally safe during emergencies. This includes safely disposing of sand from used sandbags.

Sometimes, livestock die during floods and their bodies need to be safely disposed of to prevent illness or disease. Ecology works with local governments and private solid-waste disposal companies to help transport and properly get rid of dead animals.

Managing and disposing hazardous waste

Floods pose special problems to homes and all businesses with hazardous materials. Ecology maintains a list of businesses that produce a large amount of hazardous waste and the agency contacts those in the flood-affected areas and helps with accumulated debris after a flood.

We also have a website designed to help homeowners and businesses learn how to prepare for floods, clean up afterwards, and safely dispose of dangerous waste.

Debris burning guidance

Burning flood and storm debris is allowed only under specific conditions with a proper permit. Ecology provides guidance to communities and residents who want to burn flood-related debris. Learn more about the dangers of outdoor burning.

Helping protect water quality

Public wastewater treatment plants can be affected impacted by flood waters and surface water runoff. To help protect and track water quality impacts, Ecology monitors reports from public wastewater treatment plants, and provides technical assistance to plant operators who are trying to keep untreated wastewater from entering public waterways.

FLOODSMART.GOV

The Official Site of FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Prepare to prevent pollution during flooding and winter storms

MANAGE YOUR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

Be ready for a flood! Tips for households and businesses.

STAYING SAFE IN BAD WEATHER

Department of Health's fact sheets to help you prepare for the possible hazards of bad weather

Comprehensive Planning for Flood Hazard Management

DAM SAFETY

Ecology regulates many non-power generating dams

UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANKS (UST)

Evaluating Your Underground Storage Tank System Before Restart (Korean)

Storage Fuel Tanks in the Green River Valley

BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER FLOODS

What you need to know before, during and after a flood