Flood management plan meeting draws large crowd
The effort for a locally informed regional flood plan began taking shape last week, when the steering committee for the Local Flood Management Plan Group held its first meeting on Thursday in Colusa.
The meeting was part of an ongoing effort to engage residents in efforts to develop a detailed 100-year flood plan for the upper Sacramento and mid-Sacramento regions, covering portions of Butte, Glenn, Tehama, Yolo, Colusa, Lake and Sutter counties.
More than 55 people attended the meeting, including landowners and representatives from local reclamation districts, conservation groups, county and city governments and state agencies.
Regional flood planning is the next phase of developing the goals of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan that was adopted last June.
Lewis Bair, manager of Reclamation District 108, which is the lead agency for the plan, said the local group is "a reaction to the state process" during which locals felt left out.
He said Colusa County Supervisor Denise Carter and farmers Ben Carter and Tom Ellis told the Department of Water Resources, "If you're going to make changes at the local level, you're going to need local buy-in."
Bair said he was encouraged by the meeting.
"I think we're starting fantastically. If we can have that kind of turnout, we can get what landowners want in their plan," he said.
Much of the work will be done in smaller group meetings focused on emergency response, landowner concerns and other issues that will then be brought back to shape the tone of the flood document.
One of the main issues of concern to landowners at the meeting is the conservation strategy aspect of flood planning, which they fear could take private agriculture land out of operation for habitat mitigation.
Marc Hoshovsky, of the Department of Water Resources, said that "conservation strategy is an integral part of flood planning" because the state agency can't justify funding just with flood management alone.
He said funding to continue flood planning will come through bonds, which will require buy-in from people in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
In addition, "the Legislature is expecting improved habitat and native species recovery from DWR," Hoshovsky said.
He said that the plan could attempt to target habitat improvement projects in low ag-producing areas or in places that are already flood-prone.
"We're working so we don't have flood management projects delayed because we can't find appropriate mitigation," he said.