SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Seven Stockton-area levee systems previously rated unacceptable in levee inspections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have regained eligibility for federal rehabilitation assistance after San Joaquin County made repairs that improved their maintenance ratings. All seven systems – along Bear Creek and Mormon Slough – are sponsored by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and maintained by San Joaquin County.
“Our crews worked very hard to correct the issues that had caused our levees to lose active status in the program, and we are very pleased to have been reinstated,” said John Maguire, San Joaquin County engineering services manager. “We take our levee maintenance obligations very seriously, and we intend to continue working hard to maintain our active status. We also appreciate the help we received from the staffs at the Corps of Engineers and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board in this effort.”
San Joaquin County requested re-inspection of the systems in October 2012 after addressing the issues that resulted in their overall unacceptable rating, released in April 2012. Corps levee inspection findings determine eligibility for federal funding for repairing levees damaged by flood or storms under the levee rehabilitation and inspection program.
Each of the seven systems received a rating of unacceptable in Corps periodic inspections conducted in 2010, but retained eligibility for federal levee repair and rehabilitation assistance under the terms of the Central Valley Flood System Improvement Framework. When the framework expired in August 2012, those systems lost that eligibility. The Bear Creek and Mormon Slough systems are the first of the 17 systems that lost eligibility with the framework’s expiration to regain active status in the rehabilitation and inspection program.
“We appreciated the high level of attention and cooperation from the staff of the San Joaquin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District in addressing the maintenance deficiencies,” said Bill Edgar, president of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. “We will continue to work with San Joaquin County toward achieving reinstatement of the remaining levee systems in the Stockton area.”
The systems’ improved rating of minimally acceptable is not a guarantee of safety. A number of maintenance issues throughout the systems remain to be addressed within two years of their final inspection report, issued in April 2012, to maintain eligibility. For maintenance issues that would take longer than that to address, San Joaquin County can request to retain eligibility via the Corps’ system-wide improvement framework policy. The policy allows levee maintainers to work toward improvements as part of a Corps-approved plan to address issues on a worst-first basis over time.
“This is exactly how our shared responsibility for levee safety is supposed to work,” said Sacramento District commander, Col. Bill Leady. “Our detailed inspection findings help agencies that maintain levees prioritize and quickly fix potential issues before they become bigger problems, and that makes levees and the communities behind them safer."
Representatives from San Joaquin County, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the Corps will be available for media questions via a teleconference at 10 a.m. today. Call-in information is available by request.