Sacramento Flood Control- Federal Assistance
Learn How the Federal Government is assisting and why some municipalities can not afford to maintain the new projects.
Sacramento Flood Control – Federal Assistance
Interviewer: Pressures on the dry side of the levees also contributed to their placement right on the riverbanks.
Col. Ron Light: They were built at a time when the major endeavor in the nation was out of culture. And so they rebuilt right up to the rivers to maximize the air over land in the region.
Interviewer: The result, no place for rising waters to go but over or through the levees. In many cases, farmers with meager construction skills built the levees themselves with whatever materials worth hand. Today, the US Army core of engineers spends much time and money rehabilitating them.
Col. Ron Light: What used to be okay for agricultural land no longer is acceptable to protect great populations, business, schools, homes that have been built behind the levees.
Interviewer: The ultimate goal to raise Sacramento from a 100 to a 200 year level of flood protection.
Col. Ron Light: After the ‘97 flood, we learned a lot of things about the system. We learned a lot of things about the levees. We learned, for example that under seepage was an issue to a degree that we didn’t expect before, about 23 miles of levee and the American Levee system, most of that now has very deep study walls, a continuous curtain of concrete and stall that extends 80-feet down so it can intercept water pushing through it form the road to the landslide.
Interviewer: Vital work, but with the steep price tag.
Col. Ron Light: Levee work is expensive, and what used to be at maybe a $1000.00 or $2000.00 per 100-feet or so, now may cost several Millions of dollars per mile.
Interviewer: Here at Millers Park, Col. Light estimates the costs of improvements at between three and five million dollars. But that’s a small price to pay to protect what lies on the other side of these levees, I-5 and downtown Sacramento.
Well the Federal Government will contribute two-thirds of the cost of a major reconstruction project. A day-to-day maintenance and repair of these levees is a local matter.
Col. Ron Light: The system is dynamic. You see the river moving behind me? Somewhere in the a system, there's part of the levee system that is eroding, and that erosion has to be attended to every year and the federal government that core, we rely on local reclamation districts, local levee districts and the state to perform that routine, operations, and maintenance.
The area around Sacramento has a huge number of levee districts, and most of them represent fairly small areas. If you look at this, the district boundaries on a map, it kind of looks like a jigsaw puzzle.
Interviewer: Not wiser rights for the Sacramento be. He’s part of a team working on a series called Tempting Faith, weighing the chances for a Katrina Scale Disaster in Sacramento.
Matt Weiser: They have colors as sort to focus more on the risk angle and then Terry focused on preparing for a flood. My normal beat is water and natural resources so I‘ve sort of done stories about the structural aspects of flooding.
Interviewer: Matt looked at the book to where local levee districts. What he found was alarming.
Matt Weiser: Not just for readers but for people in the flood control business. I think everyone was surprised to how bad their financial condition is. A third of them don’t have enough cash in reserved to cover even one year as operating expenses.
Col. Ron Light: There are some reclamation districts and levee districts that have a budget of maybe 52,000. It often costs us more than a million dollars a mile to rehabilitate levees to any appreciable degree. So, the funds that exist to allow a local reclamation or levee district to do that work just aren’t there.
Interviewer: Ultimately, raising the levees may require raising taxes.
Matt Weiser: Opposition 218 requires levee districts to get two-thirds approval for a tax increase, and that’s a high hurdle for any government agency to me.
Interviewer: The tax code was clearly written before the region experienced than explosion of development.
Matt Weiser: If it’s a mobile home or a million dollar house, they get the same amount of tax revenue from it. And that’s a real inequity because obviously, their burden increases when they’re protecting a million dollar home compared to a trailer.
Interviewer: State law requires these districts to file annual audits. So how have their shortcomings been addressed at the capital?
Matt Weiser: Well, the state doesn’t really review them, and the state doesn’t even follow through to make sure that they’re filed every year. And there’s basically no mechanism in the lot to allow them to enforce those things.
Interviewer: The Bees ongoing series ensures that the issue of flooding will remain in the public eye. Whether it can affect change in policy remains to be seen.
Matt Weiser: This has come up as a news issue, as a news story for decades. And there have been various attempts to deal with it but few really substitute changes that would generate more money for flood control.
Sacramento Flood Control- Federal Assistance
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