Construction slowed by December rains, but on the bright side …

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District
Published Jan. 18, 2022
Updated: Jan. 18, 2022

Dry conditions in California are traditionally a benefit for construction companies looking to continue work through the winter season. This year, however, drought-stricken California received desperately needed rains and snowfall … in abundance. That’s good news for the state, not so good for our crews looking to continue work on the Natomas Reach B project.

December storms dropped so much water, that areas of Reach B’s construction site have been turned into not just puddles, but mini-lakes, and a large portion near Pumping Plant 3 had to be tarped off to prevent erosion where conveyance pipes are being installed.

Following the atmospheric river event, California was soon hit by another prolific rainstorm. The combined storms produced such high flows in the Sacramento River that the Reach B project site along the river side was inundated with several feet of water – right where Sacramento District is building an outfall structure. When completed, the conveyance pipes will carry accumulating water from Pumping Plant 3 over the levee and into the Sacramento River.

Reach B project manager, Ruel Binonwangan, said that despite a large amount of water remaining on site, work on the project is expected to resume soon.

“Construction crews will need to get in there and do some initial housekeeping as well as use pumps to get the mud and water away from Pumping Station three,” said Binonwangan. “But the extended weather forecast looks pretty good for getting back out there and restarting work.”

Sacramento has received 13.78 inches of rain this water-year, greatly surpassing its normal accumulation from October-December of 5.60 inches. In December alone, Sacramento received nearly half our rainfall for the 2021-2022 water-year with 6.39 inches.

On top of the rain helping with immediate concerns of drought-relief, snow levels reported by the Central Sierra Snow Lab operated by UC Berkley were also bringing smiles to the water weary. The Sierras concluded an all-time snowiest December with more than 200 inches of snow (that’s almost 17 feet!) beating out the old record of 179 inches set in 1970.

Storms like December’s atmospheric river are just one of the reasons the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is revamping Natomas area levees and building improved pumping stations to ensure accumulating water can be moved from the landside to the Sacramento River, keeping residents safe.

Snow and rain statistics from