SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Inspections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District rated maintenance of more than 32 miles of levees along the Sacramento River’s east bank and levees along both sides of Cherokee Canal as unacceptable.
The Sacramento District conducted a periodic inspection of the three Cherokee Canal levee systems in March and April of 2011, and conducted a periodic inspection of the Sacramento River east system in July and August 2011. The agencies that maintain the levee systems – the California Department of Water Resources and Glenn County’s Levee District 3 for the Sacramento River system, and DWR for Cherokee Canal – were invited to accompany the levee inspectors and received a draft report of the inspection findings March 30, 2012 and February 10, 2012, respectively. Final reports for all four levee systems were presented to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board during its May 10, 2013 board meeting. The most serious deficiencies throughout the system were erosion, rodent control, slope stability and encroachments. Unacceptable vegetation was noted during the inspections but did not 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 each of the levee maintaining agencies 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 local maintaining agency partners share a common commitment to public safety and flood risk reduction.”
The Corps will continue to provide flood fighting assistance for the levee system, regardless of its 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.