Flood issues critical to downtown Colusa plan
Colusa City Councilman Tom Reische rattled some nerves this week when he said the proposed Central Valley Flood Protection Plan could ultimately cost the city's Main Street.
The comment came the same day a consultant began getting feedback from city officials, local business owners and the public about their visions of the downtown area, and most specifically, investment into the Main Street riverfront.
Reische described the possibility as "devastatingly ugly."
The councilman offered the worst-case comment as the cou cil on Wednesday debated what kind of setbacks from the levee should be required on a proposed subdivision on the east side of town.
As the discussion continued, the developer of the project asked what will happen to the homes and businesses that are already located next to the levee.
Reische responded that the city could lose Main Street.
Ben Carter, the former president of the state Flood Protection Board and a local resident, did not think the scenario was likely, but did not dismiss it outright.
"I would be surprised if they would want to condemn the homes (and businesses) along Main Street for the purpose of levee improvement, based on what we know today," Carter said.
"I think the goal to give Colusa 100-year protection (from flooding) is a good thing."
Without the protection, he said, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency comes into Colusa County to do its flood mapping, the whole area could be considered a flood plain.
That would sharply increase the cost of flood insurance for residents and businesses, and could curtail bank financing and other investment.
"If FEMA were to come back in and map Colusa into a flood plain because it does not have 100-year protection, it would have a big impact on development," Carter said.
FEMA is expected to map the county in 2014.
Noel Lerner, a state Department of Water Resources official who recently conducted an informational meeting on the flood plan, said condemning Main Street will not happen.
He said there are a number of encroachments along the Sacramento River in the Colusa area that will need to be dealt with, but said shuttering businesses and homes would be just as costly as other alternatives available to bring the levee up to standard.
"I have never heard of a community where homes and businesses have been condemned," Lerner said.
He said Marysville is going through the same situation right now, and is adding slurry walls in areas where there are businesses and homes along side the levee.
"It is expensive, but when you compare it to the cost of losing homes and businesses, it would be less devastating (to the community)," Lerner said.