Corps reinstates Sacramento levee rehabilitation eligibility

Published May 30, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento levees are eligible for federal rehabilitation assistance again after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a letter of intent submitted by local levee maintaining agencies to deal with remaining encroachment issues over time.

A letter of intent is the first step of developing a system-wide improvement framework, or SWIF – a Corps policy that allows levee maintaining agencies to be eligible for federal levee rehabilitation assistance while they work to fix difficult maintenance items according to an approved plan and timeline.

The approved letter of intent reinstates eligibility for levees along the American and Sacramento Rivers’ left banks maintained by the American River Flood Control District, City of Sacramento and the California Department of Water Resources.

“The City appreciates the Corps’ timely review and approval of our letter of intent and is happy to be reinstated as eligible for federal assistance for levee repair,” said Bill Busath, City of Sacramento Department of Utilities Engineering and Water Resources manager. “We are looking forward to working the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, other LMAs and the Corps over the next two years to develop a SWIF for the local levees.”

“I express my sincere thanks to the U.S. Army Corps for approving our letter of intent to develop a system-wide improvement framework,” said Tim Kerr, American River Flood Control District general manager. “This is a great step forward that will enable us to work collaboratively with our partners and address these items in a logical and effective manner.”

The Corps rated maintenance of this Sacramento levee system as unacceptable after inspections in 2010 found a number of potentially hazardous encroachments. Inspection findings help determine levee systems’ continued eligibility for the Corps’ rehabilitation program, the Corps’ authority to provide federal assistance for repairing levees damaged by floods or storms. Systems rated unacceptable in certain categories of deficiencies believed to directly threaten levee performance become ineligible for federal aid in repairing flood or storm damage to levees until the deficiencies are corrected.

The 42-mile system of levees surrounding Natomas was also found unacceptable in 2010, but its eligibility was reinstated in 2013 after Reclamation District 1000’s letter of intent to address remaining deficiencies was approved. Reinstatement in the Corps’ rehabilitation program does not affect status in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.“This letter of intent is a clear commitment to continued action on a challenging public safety problem and we’re glad to see it,” said Col. Mike Farrell, commander of the Corps’ Sacramento District. “This is exactly how the program is supposed to work. Together, we’ve made a lot of progress reducing flood risk in Sacramento and this commitment will help keep that progress going.”

Active status, and eligibility for rehabilitation assistance, is reinstated as of May 14, 2014 – the date of approval of the letter of intent. In order to retain eligibility, the levee maintaining agencies and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board must submit a detailed plan for addressing remaining deficiencies within two years.

“The Central Valley Flood Protection Board is committed to assisting local maintaining agencies with reinstatement into the Corps’ rehabilitation program. The approved letter of intent initiates the system-wide improvement framework process, which enables a workable approach to resolve encroachment and maintenance issues with a goal of restoring levee systems to an acceptable condition,” 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.”

Chris Gray

Release no. 14-029