REPAIR OR RIPARIAN?
When Governor Schwarzenegger declared a State of Emergency for California’s levee system, 33 critical sites were identified. These sites were identified in six counties: Colusa, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba. The first 29 sites were estimated to cost $150 million dollars.
Over a year later many of the critical erosion sites have been repaired. Currently work is underway to mitigate damage done to the environment during the levee repairs. The levee that Governor Schwarzenegger came and visited just before the 2006 November election (Moonbend Road in Colusa) is currently being planted with numerous shrubs, bushes and trees. An elaborate irrigation system has been installed and a fence has been placed on the water and land side of the levee to protect the recent plantings.
Furthermore, many have estimated that over fifty percent of levee repair work went to environmental mitigation. The same mitigation that actually weakens our flood control system. The dense vegetation planted along the river impedes flood waters and raises water levels. During levee repairs snags are left in the river, which can cause islands of silt to form. The islands can divert river flows against levee banks, causing more rapid erosion and the threat of levee failure.
In conclusion, though the levee repair is desperately needed in the north state the mitigation efforts are costing tax payers large sums of money and actually doing more harm than good. Our flood control system needs to be brought back to its design capacity and maintained in order to protect our rural communities. ■
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