SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Construction to implement flood risk management improvements to Natomas Basin levees is one step closer to reality after leaders from the Department of the Army, State of California and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency signed a project partnership agreement August 18.
The partnership agreement affirms the commitment of Federal, state and local agencies to cooperatively complete upgrades to the 42 miles of levee surrounding the Natomas Basin. SAFCA has already completed improvements to 18 miles of levee.
Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy joined Central Valley Flood Protection Board President Bill Edgar and SAFCA Executive Director Rick Johnson to sign the document, formally shifting the project into its construction phase.
Representatives Doris Matsui and John Garamendi, whose districts both encompass parts of the Natomas Basin, gathered with the project partners as well as Gary Bardini, deputy director for integrated water management for California’s Department of Water Resources and SAFCA’s Board of Directors Chairperson Jeff Harris for a media event at Discovery Park to announce the agreement with a ceremonial signing.
"With this step, we begin the federal investment in a critical piece of Natomas' flood protection," said Congresswoman Matsui. "The Army Corps of Engineers signing on as our partners means that the residents of Natomas are a step closer to having one of the strongest levees in the region. I look forward to continuing our strong local and federal partnership as we work together on the protection Natomas needs and deserves."
Flood events in 1986 and 1997 pushed many Sacramento area levees to the brink of failure, including in Natomas, which has more than 100,000 residents and contains major transportation infrastructure such as the Sacramento International Airport, Interstates 5 and 80 and Highway 99.
“Those two events served as wake up calls for the Corps and the other agencies tasked with overseeing flood risk in northern California,” said Col. David Ray, commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District. “While we have improved some of the weakest stretches in the [Natomas levee] system, we must improve the entire system for it to effectively reduce flood risk for those who live, work and recreate here.”
The Corps is scheduled to award its first construction contract later this year and expects to break ground on the remaining 24 miles of levee improvements in spring 2017.