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Sutter Basin Feasibility Study

The focus of the Sutter Basin Feasibility Study is to recommend a plan for flood damage reduction, ecosystem restoration, and recreation for the communities of Yuba City, Live Oak, Gridley and Biggs. The study area is located within the boundaries of the Sacramento River Flood Control Project in Sutter County and includes the Sacramento, Feather and Bear Rivers as well as the Sutter and Tisdale Bypasses.

Results from levee evaluation studies on the Sacramento Urban Area, Marysville/Yuba City, Mid-Valley, Lower and Upper Sacramento Area levee reconstruction projects indicate that structural problems caused by on-going seepage exist. The Corps of Engineers is addressing levee reconstruction under these projects.

The Sutter Basin is bounded by the Feather River to the east and the Sacramento River to the west.  The Sutter Bypass – Feather River sub-basin is bounded by the Sutter Bypass and Sutter Buttes to the west, and the Feather River to the east, and extends north along the Feather River to the Thermalito Afterbay.  The levee districts within the sub-basin are Sutter County Levee District 1 and Sutter County Levee District 9. The study area is located in the 2nd Congressional District.

The Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement was signed in March 2000.  The non-Federal sponsors are State of California, Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the Sutter-Butte Flood Control Agency.  Sutter County is the local sponsor with an agreement with the State of California.  The current estimated cost for the complete Feasibility Study is $8.556 million.  The original anticipated duration for the project was approximately 30 months.

This investigation is being conducted under the authority provided by the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 1999. The project was originally authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1962 (Public Law 87-874).

Flood History

Historically, the Feather and Sacramento Rivers overflowed the banks of their channels during high water periods. During high-water periods these rivers overflowing the banks at low points, washed channels from the rivers creating natural by-passes such as Gilsizer Slough at Yuba City, Nelson Slough near Nicolaus, and Sacramento Slough near the mouth of the Feather River.

The first attempt by land owners in and around Yuba City to keep the rivers in their channels was the construction of a levee across Gilsizer Slough. Hydraulic mining debris which started to fill the Feather River channel in 1856 raised the bottom of this river more each year as hydraulic mining spread to the Yuba, Bear and American Rivers. This made it necessary to raise the levees on the Sacramento, Feather, Yuba, Bear and American Rivers from time to time as the hydraulic mining operations continued to fill the river channels.

In order to keep ahead of anticipated higher floods, the levees were raised. These levee raises proved in succeeding floods to be never enough because not enough waterways were allowed between the levees in many places. The natural banks of the rivers could never have taken care of the floods even if the mining debris had never been allowed to enter the channels.

Land owners on opposite sides of the river began competing in an attempt to build higher and stronger levees than the levees across the river and thus assure themselves that their levees could not be over topped. The first of these levees was privately constructed, but soon the high cost of protection from flooding required that levee and reclamation districts be formed.

Study Area

Contact Information

For more information on the
Sutter Basin Feasibility Study,
please contact us at the following:



Mailing Address:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,
Sacramento District
Sutter Basin Feasibility Study
1325 J Street, Room 1513
Sacramento, CA 95814