Levee systems are part of our nation’s landscape and provide important benefits to communities behind them. There are approximately 1,600 miles of levees in the Sacramento District’s Levee Safety Program spread out across California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. More than one million people live or work behind these levees, and over $165 billion worth of public and private property exists.
Levees reduce flood risk to people, businesses, critical infrastructure, and the environment, however it’s important to recognize they don’t eliminate flooding. Flood risk and levee condition are dynamic. Levees change over time: banks erode, closures rust, animals burrow, and pumps wear out. Ongoing vigilance is needed to reduce the risks associated with flooding. The Sacramento District works with non-Federal sponsors and stakeholders to manage and communicate flood risks to residents and businesses. Our partners play an important role in levee safety because we all must work together, sharing responsibility, to solve and manage flood risk challenges.
The Sacramento District routinely inspects and performs risk assessments on levees (and other flood risk management features) within its area of responsibility to monitor their overall condition, identify deficiencies, verify that needed maintenance is taking place, and provide information about the levee to communities who live and work behind them. Operation, maintenance, repair, rehabilitation and replacement activities are the responsibility of the non-Federal sponsor for all levee systems in the Sacramento District’s Levee Safety Program.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Sacramento District regularly inspects levees within its Levee Safety Program to monitor their overall condition, identify deficiencies, verify that needed maintenance is taking place, determine eligibility for federal rehabilitation assistance (in accordance with Public Law 84-99), and provide information about the levees on which the public relies. Inspection information also contributes to risk assessments and informs levee accreditation decisions for the National Flood Insurance Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Inspection ratings are based on the levee inspection checklist, which includes 125 specific items dealing with operation and maintenance of levee embankments, floodwalls, interior drainage, pump stations, and channels.
Ratings are assigned based on the following:
Levee Safety Risk Assessments
Approximately every ten years, USACE will perform a risk assessment on each levee within its portfolio. USACE uses risk assessments to prioritize life safety risks for its own levee safety activities, and also to provide a basis for communicating risk so levee sponsors and other stakeholders can make more informed decisions. Risk assessments place levees into risk categories from very high risk to low risk by evaluating three components of risk:
- Hazard: What possible loading events (flood, storm, earthquake, etc.) could occur? How likely will these events occur?
- Performance: How will the levee perform when subjected to these events?
- Consequences: What are the consequences if the levee doesn't perform well – in particular, what loss of life could occur?