SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Inspections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District rated maintenance of two levee systems along Butte Creek south of Chico unacceptable.
The Sacramento District conducted periodic inspection of the levee systems Feb. 14 - March 1, 2011. Initial findings were provided Feb. 10, 2012 for review to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the California Department of Water Resources, which are responsible for maintaining the levees. Final reports were presented to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board April 5, 2013. The most serious deficiencies throughout the systems were erosion, rodent control and encroachments. Unacceptable vegetation was noted during the inspections, but in neither 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 Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the California Department of Water Resources are continuing to work collaboratively to resolve encroachment and maintenance issues with a goal of achieving an acceptable rating on all the levee systems,” said Len Marino, chief engineer for the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. “The Board and our levee maintaining partners at DWR share a common commitment to public safety and flood risk reduction.”
The Corps will continue to provide flood fighting assistance for both systems, regardless of their status. When the maintenance problems have been corrected, DWR may request a re-inspection of the levee systems, 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.