West Sac Awarded $1.1 Billion for Flood ProtectionOct 14, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Michele Townsend
From L to R: Vance Cave, DWR; Charles Austin, USACE; Jeremy Arich, DWR; Pam Castens, USACE; Beth Salyers, USACE; Jane Dolan, CVFPB President; Colonel Chad W. Caldwell, US Army Corps of Engineers Commander and District Engineer; Mayor Martha Guerrero; Greg Fabun, COWS Flood General Manager; Thomas Ramos, Chair-WSAFCA; Bryon Lake, USACE; Robert Dick, USACE; Michael Wright, CVFPB. Photo courtesy of Mayor Martha Guerrero
WEST SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - West Sacramento sits in a sort of ‘bowl’. By having levees that encase our town, people tend to forget the possibility of flood danger that West Sacramento is privy to. In 1994, the West Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (WSAFCA) was formed. WSAFCA is a combination of agencies that work together to maintain the integrity of the levees that surround our town.
In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (the federal agency that is in charge of the overall care and development of levees across the nation) increased the standards for levees across the country. The huge loss of life and massive destruction of property from Katrina inspired the Corp to look at levee structures throughout the country and require cities to protect their community members by reducing the risk of flooding.
The only problem with demands like building up a levee to last for 200 years instead of 100 years, is that it takes money. Not only does it take money but there are a series of steps that have to be taken to assess the levees. Evaluations include how much water has soaked into the ground, environmental studies of wildlife and plant life, real estate requirements and restrictions and several other areas of concern.
The West Sacramento Levee Improvement Project, as a whole, was going to require the completion of ten different projects in order to bring our levees to the strength of providing a 200-year level of flood protection by the year 2025. Working with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), WSAFCA has now completed 7 of the 10 projects required. With each project, funding had to be established.
During the Trump administration, West Sacramento was passed over twice for funding. However on Friday, September 9, 2022, WSAFCA, US Army Corp of Engineers, and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board signed an agreement for Federal participation in the West Sacramento Levee Improvement Project.
“Today we celebrated a significant achievement with the West Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, US Army Corp of Engineers and Central Valley Flood Protection Board signing ceremony marking Federal participation in our West Sacramento Levee Improvement Project. This collaboration brings new funding with more construction beginning next year. We are thrilled with the federal, state and local partnerships working towards achieving the City’s 200-year level flood protection. We are grateful for the perseverance of our champion, Congresswoman Doris O. Matsui, with the support of President Joe Biden and our team,” said Mayor Martha Guerrero in a statement she released.
The agreement will provide the collaborative agencies $1.1 billion over the course of the next few years for the completion of Southport Sacramento River Early Implementation Project, Sacramento River West North Levee Project and the Yolo Bypass East Levee Project. What many people don’t realize is that in addition to the risk of flood, there is another reason that these projects need to be completed on time.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be implementing a Map Modernization Program nationally. This program will include modernizing the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS) for each county in California. These maps are used to determine and set insurance rates. Flood insurance is not normally included in home owner’s insurance.
FEMA has issued preliminary FIRMs to all of Yolo County except West Sacramento. If the levees are not brought to 200-year flood protection standards by the time FEMA determines the most appropriate flood zone determination, West Sacramento homeowners could be required to carry flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program. Currently it is recommended, but not required, and residents are eligible for Preferred Risk Policies.
More information about the city’s Flood Protection can be found at cityofwestsacramento.org.