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Winter 2012

Flood Plan Fails Rural Landowners

Family Water Alliance has been a longtime grassroots voice for flood control issues throughout the Central Valley.  When voters passed Proposition 1E, we were all encouraged at the level of funding the Central Valley would have available to improve, and more importantly maintain, our existing flood control system.  Due to the increased awareness of how at risk the Central Valley is to catastrophic flooding, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) was required to draft the Central Valley Flood Management Plan (the Plan). 

The first step in drafting the Plan was a series of work groups created by geographic boundaries, watersheds, and specified topics. Each workgroup met numerous times to give input into the planning process.  FWA along with Farm Bureau, irrigation districts, levee maintaining agencies, local farmers and ranchers went to countless meetings to voice our concerns.  Our concerns focused around assuring that rural agricultural communities did not become sacrifice zones to acquire necessary urban levels of flood protection and to assure the habitat restoration in the floodway was prohibited or very limited.

The Plan was definitely a big undertaking by DWR and with the deadline fast approaching Phase 3 of the Plan was never initiated. Phase 3 of the planning process would have involved private property ownerns and address specific flood control improvements.  This Phase would have involved both private landowners and local agencies that may be directly impacted by this Plan. 

It is time to rally the support of farmers, ranchers and private property owners throughout the Valley to the urgent attention and involvement in this planning process to assure the voices of those who will be impacted most by this plan are heard.  The draft plan released in December 2011 proposes “setback levees” and flood “bypass expansions” encompassing over 40,000 acres of farmland throughout the Central Valley with the vast majority of the land within the Sacramento Valley. 

While some upgrades and expansions are necessary the private land that would be acquired to make this flood plan a reality is simply unacceptable and it is contrary to the input that DWR received from the agricultural community at the stakeholder meetings.  Maintaining our flood control system and assuring adequate flood protection for rural and urban communities should be of utmost importance to protect the people, property and communities that exist behind Central Valley levees today. 

The state has missed the mark on creating a plan that will be supported by those in the agricultural community by failing to meet with landowners that would be impacted by this Plan.  Consuming massive swaths of farmland and taking that land out of production to assure urban area flood protection and to provide land for habitat restoration activities in the floodway will only further hurt our rural agricultural economies and provide us with little if any increased protection from flooding.  Family Water Alliance urges you to get involved in the process and reach out to your family, neighbors and friends and make your voices heard. 

In coordination with other agricultural groups and the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) get involved and communicate your concerns at a local and statewide level.  Please email FWA at to be included in our updates.  CFBF also has a webpage that can help familiarize yourself with the issues impacting our region, please visit


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