Corps releases inspection ratings for seven Delta levee systems

Published June 26, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Inspections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District rated maintenance of five rural levee systems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta as unacceptable, and rated maintenance of two additional Delta levee systems as minimally acceptable.

The Sacramento District conducted periodic inspections of the Hastings Tract and Cache Slough levee systems during January-February 2012. Reclamation districts 2068, 2098 and 2060, which maintain different segments of the two levee systems, were invited to accompany the levee inspectors and received a presentation of the draft inspection findings July 13, 2012.

The Sacramento District conducted routine inspections of the Stewart Tract levee system, maintained by reclamation districts 2062 and 2107, in June 2011; the Sherman Island levee system, maintained by Reclamation District 0341, in March 2013; and the Stark Tract-Union Island levee system, maintained by reclamation districts 0001 and 2089, in October 2011 and January 2012. All received maintenance ratings of unacceptable. The Mellin Levee near Rio Vista and the Twitchell Island levee system, inspected in March 2013, both received ratings of minimally acceptable.

Final reports for all levee systems were presented to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board during its June 14, 2013 board meeting. The most serious deficiencies throughout all systems were erosion, rodent control, slope stability, encroachments and cracking. 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 systems, regardless of their status. When the maintenance problems have been corrected, the board 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. 13-045