Corps releases inspection ratings for Clear Lake levees

Published April 17, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Inspections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District rated maintenance of two levee systems near Clear Lake minimally acceptable and gave an unacceptable maintenance rating to four Clear Lake levee systems. The levee systems are maintained by Lake County Watershed Protection District and the California Department of Water Resources.

The Sacramento District conducted routine inspection of the six levee systems June 28-29, 2011. Findings were provided April 2, 2013 for review to Lake County. Final reports were presented to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board March 22, 2013. The most serious deficiencies throughout the systems were encroachments. Unacceptable vegetation was noted during the inspections, but in none of the six 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.

“We are addressing the unacceptable ratings, and have sent a re-inspection request for two of the three county-maintained systems to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board to remove the unacceptable ratings where we’ve already made repairs,” said Tom Smythe, Lake County Water Resources Department water resources engineer. “We’re actively working to remove the third unacceptable rating from its system.”

“The Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Department of Water Resources and Lake County 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 partners at Lake County and the Department of Water Resources share a common commitment to public safety and flood risk reduction.”

The Corps will continue to provide flood fighting assistance for all six systems, regardless of their status. When the maintenance problems have been corrected, Lake County 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.

Chris Gray

Release no. 13-019