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Levee Authority Gets $9.7M for Calif. Flood Protection

According to the Department of Water Resources, the $9.7 million is intended to help “improve flood protection on the Yuba River for up to a 200-year flood event, which will reduce the risks of flooding” to the area.

(TNS) - The California Department of Water Resources announced Tuesday that the Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority was awarded millions in funding to help protect area residents from flooding.

The funding in which Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority (TRLIA) will benefit from is intended to go toward its “Yuba River North Training Wall-Phase 2” project, according to the department. With an estimated project cost of $12,129,803, TRLIA is set to receive $9,703,842 in recommended funding from the state.

According to the Department of Water Resources, the $9.7 million is intended to help “improve flood protection on the Yuba River for up to a 200-year flood event, which will reduce the risks of flooding” to the area, while at the same time improving habitat and protecting downstream levees.

“This grant from the California Department of Water Resources is the continuation of several years of collaborative effort between Yuba Water Agenc, Yuba County and TRLIA to continue to reduce the risk of flooding for the community of Hallwood,” Yuba County Supervisor Gray Bradford, who is a member of the TRLIA Board of Directors, said in an email to the Appeal on Tuesday.

In March 2021, Yuba Water Agency announced a $400,000 grant and $550,000 loan that would go to TRLIA to help complete the first of two phases of its North Training Wall project near Hallwood along the lower Yuba River. The funds were to be used to reshape the training wall and connect it to higher ground near Daguerre Point Dam. It was intended to help reduce the flood risk for Marsyville, Hallwood and communities in Reclamation District 10, the Appeal previously reported.

Yuba Water also previously granted $1 million for the North Training Wall project design and temporary repairs. TRLIA planned at the time to leverage those funds to try and secure additional grants from the state and federal government to complete construction by the end of the year. Once completed, TRLIA planned to pursue a 100-year level of flood protection certification from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Hallwood.

Later that year in June, Yuba Water announced that a $1.1 million grant would be awarded to TRLIA for work on the North Training Wall project. That funding was to allow TRLIA to complete design and engineering aspects of the project and increase the authority’s competitiveness for additional grant funds from the state or federal government.

“With a $3.05 million grant from Yuba Water, TRLIA has designed, permitted and is constructing repairs to the 2.25-mile North Training Wall,” Bradford said. “A training wall is basically a gravel embankment that directs water further downstream within the boundaries of the river channel, that is engineered and constructed to flood control standards so that it functions similar to the earthen levees people are familiar with (like those that protect Marysville, Linda, Olivehurst and Plumas Lake).”

Bradford said the North Training Wall was planned to be completed in two phases. Phase one was completed in January of this year. Phase two includes the improvement of two miles of the North Training Wall to “establish a stable embankment and reduce the risk of flooding within Hallwood during high flows in the Yuba River,” Bradford said. He said this phase of the project also will “address the remaining .25-mile segment and form a continuous line of protection for Hallwood and create approximately 15 acres of riparian and wetland habitat within the project area.”

Bradford said the design and permitting process for the project is expected to be completed next year with construction slated to take place in 2024 or 2025.

“Following completion of the second phase construction, the project will be certified as meeting FEMA 100-year requirements, meaning that there’s a 1-in-100 chance that a storm could come along that could overpower what that system is designed to handle,” Bradford said. “It’s so great to leverage our local dollars to get outside funding for flood risk reduction projects like this, because, although we have made a ton of progress in the last several years, we still have a lot of work to do. We’re seeing more extreme weather events all around the country and really need to make sure we don't take our eye off the ball, that we are prepared for bigger storms, so we never have to go through another situation like we did in ’86 and ’97.”

In June of this year, TRLIA celebrated the completion of its Urban Levee Design Criteria, a project that will establish flood protection for Linda, Olivehurst, Arboga and Plumas Lake for up to 200 years, the Appeal previously reported.

In 2004, TRLIA established the levee expansion initiative across Reclamation District 784 (RD784) following two floods as a result of levee breaks in 1986 and 1997. TRLIA has been the first flood prevention group to establish the 200-year protection standard as modeled by the Urban Levee Design Criteria, former Central Valley Flood Protection President Bill Edgar previously said.

The project, according to TRLIA, has fortified and expanded 33 miles of the RD784 system, restored over 2,000 acres of flood-plain habitat and constructed two setback levees for added protection.

According to a 2019 FEMA accreditation, TRLIA levees maintain a low-to-moderate flood risk for the surrounding areas. Because of the work done by the authority, homes in Linda, Olivehurst, Arboga and Plumas Lake would be eligible for low-cost flood insurance, the Appeal previously reported.

For areas previously devastated by floods, levee expansions and improvements will provide more security to the risk of a natural disaster. The Yuba County flood of 1986 inundated nearly 4,000 homes and forced as many as 26,000 residents to evacuate Linda, Olivehurst and Arboga, the Appeal previously reported. An initiative to improve the levee system was not established until the 1997 flood when two levee collapses flooded over 50,000 acres in the Yuba-Sutter area.

In its announcement on Tuesday, the California Department of Water Resources said the overall $50.4 million that was awarded in funding for 18 flood management and protection projects across the state will help support “local agency efforts to prepare for flooding by planning and implementing flood risk reduction projects related to stormwater, flooding, mudslides, and flash floods.”

The department said even though the state is entering a fourth year of drought, “climate extremes” require more to be done to prepare for an increased risk of flooding.

“This funding will help vulnerable communities across California protect their citizens, property, and infrastructure from increasing flood risks and help prepare for the new climate extremes we are facing,” Gary Lippner, Department of Water Resources deputy director of Flood Management and Dam Safety, said in a statement. “As we have seen from recent flooding events across the country, floods can strike communities at any time. DWR is proud to work with our community partners to increase their flood and climate resilience at the local level.”


©2022 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.)
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