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April 2007

GETTING OUR FAIR SHARE

  With the passage of the Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Act of 2006 (Proposition 1E) and the Safe Drinking Water, Water Quality and Supply, Flood Control, River and Coastal Protection Bond Act  of 2006 (Proposition 84) in the November 2006 election, the State of California has funding to significantly improve its flood control programs and infrastructure.

As we watch the state address the flood control issues, we are encouraged at the foresight of so many legislators. While FWA may DWR presentation on "Flood Safe California" Plan.not agree with all ideas and concepts put forth in these bonds, we are excited that so many are interested in rehabilitating the state’s flood control infrastructure. This mutual goal to protect people and property from the damage and destruction that will be caused by catastrophic flooding, should we to continue with business as usual, is the most crucial aspect this bond money needs to address.

With the lions share of the bond money earmarked for the Central Valley it is important that our rural communities get their fair share of the bond money and that the bond money does not get allocated only to the urban areas in the Central Valley. The flood control system is just that, a total system made up of integral parts that all need to work together. Fortifying only portions of the system is unlikely to provide the flood control protection envisioned. As an example, fortifying levees in the Sacramento region, while ignoring cleaning out of the weirs and bypasses (our safety relief valves) will not address the large flows that should be diverted during a high flood water event. As such, much more water will remain in the Sacramento River channel headed towards the City of Sacramento. If the system is not maintained as designed, the state had better build those levees even larger than currently proposed, because flood flows in the main stem of the Sacramento River will be larger than expected due to the lack of maintenance on the weirs and bypasses.

The past few months have brought hope to the crisis facing our states flood control system. The Central Valley will receive $3.275 billion dollars of which a minimum of $300 million dollars will be allocated for Rural Project Levee Repair. This information was presented at the bond money allocation Senate hearing that FWA attended in February.  FWA drafted a letter to the Senator Steinberg, the chairman of the Senate Committee Natural Resources and Water that voiced the concerns of our rural communities.

This money is only the beginning of what is needed to repair our State’s flood control system. Family Water Alliance will continue to stay on top of the bond money allocation and assist our communities in receiving their share of the bond monies. It is encouraging to see our State take the lead in addressing flood control in California.  ■

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