Levee group identifies strategy
Identifying trouble areas along the Sacramento River levee system and educating agency officials and residents about the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan will be the first steps in developing a regional strategy to meet state goals.
The committee overseeing the work received notice recently that its application for a $2.1 million grant from the state Department of Water Resources has been approved.
"We did not get a lot of push back on a lot of the costs or the scope of the project from the state," said Lewis Bair, general manager of Reclamation District 108 and one of the lead administrators for the regional plan.
The group is waiting for the actual contract with the consultant that will develop the regional plan, but some work is getting under way.
Bair said he was told by state officials it would be about a month before the contract is ready. If the timeline holds true, he said, then the work can move forward without any real hiccups.
The goal of the plan is to identify actual projects and financing options to improve the levees to meet the new state guidelines.
At the top of the list is making sure the levees protecting communities along the river meet the 100-year level requirement for any community under 10,000 in population.
The plan also will address farmland and other rural areas, but that has been a sticking point on what kind of protection level should be required.
Some area farmers believe their interests are being sacrificed for urban priorities, and are looking for equal protection or some kind of compensation assurances in the event of a flood.
They remind officials in the process that as the ag economy goes, so goes the viability of all the communities in the area.
The Upper-Sacramento River Region and the Mid-Sacramento River Region are combined for the purpose of developing a regional plan.
However, each area has its own committee, and several members from each of those are part of an administrative panel to oversee the project.
The area stretches from parts of Butte County to the north, down the river through Glenn County and the entire length of Colusa County, and ends nearly midway through Yolo County.
The state wants the plan in place in 18 months, which Bair said will be a challenge, but is doable.
The committee hopes to have a general meeting involving impacted agencies, landowners and residents sometime in March.
"We will probaby have a kickoff meeting with a larger group and tell them this is what we want to do and then we will go to smaller meetings," Bair said.
"I think what we have to do is start educating folks and reaching out to folks and find out what their concerns are."