Corps releases inspection rating for four Kings River levee systems

Published Aug. 30, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Inspections by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District rated maintenance of four Kings River levee systems as unacceptable.

The Sacramento District conducted periodic inspections of four systems along the Kings River in rural Fresno and Kings counties during January-February 2012. The Kings River Conservation District, which maintains the levee systems, was invited to accompany the levee inspectors and received a presentation of the draft inspection findings June 25, 2012.

The most serious deficiencies throughout the system were erosion, bank caving, 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 typically ineligible for federal aid in repairing flood or storm damage to levees until their deficiencies are corrected.

However, KRCD will retain eligibility for these systems after Corps headquarters approved their letter of intent to complete a system-wide improvement framework, or SWIF – which offers continued eligibility while the agency works according to an approved plan to address deficiencies on a worst-first basis over time. 

The Corps will continue to provide flood fighting assistance for the levee systems, regardless of their status. KRCD has two years from the approval date of the letter of intent to complete the SWIF, and will remain eligible for rehabilitation assistance as long as they continue to make progress according to the plan or fix the unacceptable deficiencies.

“Flood protection for the residents and landowners is a top priority for KRCD. KRCD was informed of the inspection results last year and has corrected critical deficiencies. We are currently working with the Corps on plan to resolve all of the deficiencies,” stated Steve Stadler, KRCD’s Deputy General Manager of Water Resources.

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. 13-061