Corps releases inspection rating for Knights Landing levee system

Published Aug. 16, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – An inspection by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District rated maintenance of the Knights Landing levee system as unacceptable.

The Sacramento District conducted a periodic inspection of the Knights Landing/Yolo Bypass levee system during January-February 2012. Yolo County, the California Department of Water Resources and the Knights Landing Ridge Drainage District, which maintain different segments of the levee system, were invited to accompany the levee inspectors and received a presentation of the draft inspection findings May 18, 2012.

A final report for the levee system was presented to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board during its June 28, 2013 board meeting. The most serious deficiencies throughout the system 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 Ryan Larson, Sacramento District acting 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 Corps will continue to provide flood fighting assistance for the levee system, regardless of its status. When the maintenance problems have been corrected, the board may request a re-inspection of the levee system, and regain active status in the program if they’ve been adequately addressed. The levee maintain agencies may also regain active status and federal repair eligibility under the Corps’ system-wide improvement framework program, which offers continued eligibility while agencies work according to an approved plan to address deficiencies on a worst-first basis over time. 

“The Knights Landing Ridge Drainage District approved funding to support joint development of a letter of intent to prepare a system-wide improvement framework plan with our local maintaining agencies for the basin, including the County of Yolo and the Department of Water Resources,” said Reclamation District 108 General Manager Lewis Bair, who also represents KLRDD. “The intent is to regain eligibility prior to this winter.  We believe the process will help prioritize investments and direct the repairs to the appropriately responsible entity for quick resolution.”

“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 inspection results and maintenance requirements are independent of an ongoing collaborative federal, state and local effort to improve several reaches of the Knights Landing levee system. That effort, when complete, would address some of the findings of the inspection, but the majority of unacceptable maintenance issues would remain.

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. 13-056