Preparedness & Recovery

Agency to Showcase How Levees Have Been Bolstered

Community has opportunity to learn about levee project and how it fared during the Lake Oroville spillway incident.

by Jake Abbott, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif. / May 11, 2017

(TNS) - The Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency will host a meeting next Wednesday to update residents on how years of levee work and hundreds of millions of dollars in improvements have fared these past few months with the high water levels in the Feather River.

"Our focus will be on the work we've done on emergency repairs and some of the future work that is going to be done on the levee to rehabilitate the unimproved levees due to recent high-water events," said Mike Inamine, general manager of SBFCA.

The meeting is an opportunity for community members to learn about SBFCA's Feather River West Levee Project — how it fared during the recent storm events and the Lake Oroville spillway incident, and what still needs to be completed.

The Feather River West Levee Project — approved by property owners in Sutter and Butte counties in June 2010 — includes major repairs and improvements to 44 miles of levee stretching from the Thermalito Afterbay in Oroville to south Sutter County. So far, approximately 37 miles of levee have been repaired and reinforced with slurry walls that help prevent levee breaches and seepage.

Inamine said SBFCA will also give an update on a potential U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works project. While no decisions have been made on the project in terms of appropriated funds, SBFCA will be notified within the next approximately 45 days what the federal agency plans to do and how it plans to fund the work.

According to the agency, a combination of the recent storm events, the Lake Oroville spillway issue and fluctuating river flows have "tested the strength of repaired levee segments and intensified the need for critical levee repairs in Yuba City, south of Star Bend and along the Sutter Bypass."

In total, SBFCA designated $5 million in funds for eme gency repairs this year, which helped mitigated boils and seepage in areas of the levee on the west bank of the river that had yet to be repaired.

"More significant fixes are needed for critically at-risk segments of the levee, in addition to planned work on the levee along Laurel Avenue and within the Oroville Wildlife Area," said Kim Floyd, a SBFCA spokesperson, in a press release.

"I would like to emphasize that we will be focusing the conversation on the Feather River West Levee Project but we understand there is concern with Oroville, so we will try and respond to questions about the incident in terms of how it relates to the repairs and construction we've done on the project," Inamine said.

For more information about the meeting or what SBFCA has been working on, visit www.sutterbutteflood.org, or call 870-4425.

Local Assemblyman asks $100 million from state for immediate levee repairs

Assemblyman James Gallagher is spearheading an effort, along with 10 other legislators, to allocate $100 million of state funding for critical levee repairs.

The bipartisan coalition of legislators is seeking the state funding to pay for needed repairs on the state's levees, as well as to reimburse agencies that helped with emergency response actions over the past few months.

"It is time to start investing in California's aging water and flood infrastructure," Gallagher said in a press release. "Oroville was the exclamation point on our current water infrastructure crises and shows the need for immediate action. We need to fund and maintain our levees to protect ourselves from dangerous floods that predictably happen every 10 years."

It's estimated that tens of billions of dollars above what is currently being spent will be needed across the state for flood control system improvements over the next couple decades.

"We must recognize that, in the long-term, this kind of investment will save lives, protect property and infrastructure, and save the state billions. $100 million is a good start on that investment," Gallagher said in a press release.

A state budget subcommittee is scheduled to discuss Gallagher's request at a hearing on Wednesday.

According to the press release, 25 percent of California live in flood plains, with over $575 billion in at-risk structures. Flood events in 1969, 1986 and 1997 have resulted in more than 60 deaths and cost the state $2.5 billion in economic damages.

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