Chico, Gerber-area levees don’t meet Corps maintenance standards

Published Oct. 29, 2012

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Inspections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District found that 33 miles of levees near Chico and Gerber do not meet Corps operation and maintenance standards. A map showing the location of inspected levees and their inspection report cards are posted to the Sacramento District’s website here:  

The Sacramento District conducted a periodic inspection of nine levee systems on Mud, Sycamore and Dry Creeks near Chico in December 2010 and Elder Creek near Gerber in February 2011. Initial findings were provided Oct. 14, 2011, for Chico and Jan. 13, 2012, for Gerber to the agencies responsible for maintaining the levees for review. Final reports were presented to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board Oct. 26, 2012.  All nine systems were rated “Unacceptable,” meaning they are unlikely to perform as intended in a flood. The most serious deficiencies throughout all the systems were encroachments, erosion, bank caving and rodent control. Unacceptable vegetation was noted during the inspections, but in none of the systems did vegetation result in an overall unacceptable rating.

“Levee inspections are all about making sure that a levee can reliably do what we expect it to,” said Meegan Nagy, Sacramento District levee safety program manager. “Our findings help the agencies that own and maintain these levees prioritize levee fixes – and help the public understand their flood risk and make informed decisions about their safety.” 

Inspection findings also determine levee systems’ continued eligibility for the Corps’ Rehabilitation and Inspection Program, the Corps’ authority to provide federal assistance for flood fighting and repairing levees damaged by floods or storms. Systems rated unacceptable were found not to meet Corps levee safety criteria and are ineligible for federal aid in repairing flood or storm damage to levees until their deficiencies are corrected.  

The Corps will continue to provide flood fighting assistance for the all nine levee systems, regardless of their status. When the maintenance problems have been corrected, the levee maintaining agencies may request a re-inspection of the levee system, and regain active status in the program if they’ve been adequately addressed.  

Of the more than 6,500 miles of levees in the Central Valley, about 1,760 are in the Corps’ Levee Safety Program. Annual inspections of California levees sponsored by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board are conducted mostly by the California Department of Water Resources, with the Corps inspecting 10 percent of those levees annually for quality assurance. The Corps does not own or maintain any levees in the Central Valley, but continues to work with the board and local agencies to complete levee improvement projects and reduce flood risk throughout the valley.

Photos of typical maintenance deficiencies in the Chico and Gerber areas are posted to the Sacramento District’s Flickr site: This short video shows how the Corps inspects levees:

Chris Gray

Release no. 12-044