Monday, January 16, 2006

California State Budget for Levees

California's state budget is finally addressing Sacramento's levee needs. With all the talk about the Auburn dam and necessary flood control, it is welcome news that our state legislature is looking at the long range needs of our waterways. The govenor increased the current levee budget from 49M to 84 million. Fred Klass, the program budget manager for the Department of Finance says,"It's a fairly substancial increase." This money does not include the bond measure that adds another 2.5 billion to flood protection improvements. This money is also being used to leverage the federal and local governments for another 2.5 billion.

Protecting our levees throughout the State of California will save millions in economic impacts from flooding and water management. After seeing the damage done by Katrina, federal and state government representatives finally realize that catastrophic financial impacts far exceeds any preventative measures such as fixing our aging leeves. These extra dollars will support the following salaries:
  • 14 people dedicated to levee maintenance
  • 8 engineers to evaluate levees & management practices of 80 statewide agencies
  • 9 staff members to work on emergency needs
  • 1 person in charge of updating floodplain maps
Also, much of the monies will go to support new gear such as bulldozers, dump trucks and equipment for monitoring rainfall and river depths. Approximately 17M will go towards Delta levee maintenance alone.

Cheryl Bly-Chester, VP of State Reclamation Board says,"It's one thing to tell us to get more levees built... It's quite another to back that up with the staff and the money that we need to get the work done. He's (Governor Schwarzenegger) doing both." Ms. Bly-Chester says that the added monies will help their board to process levee repair applications in a more timely manner.

Voices throughout the State have weighed in with positive responses to the new levee budgets. Careful spending is necessary to fund the much needed levee work throughout the state. Dave Schmidl, superintendent of Levee District 9 north of Yuba City, is glad to hear this news. His district borders along the Feather River. The levees there have been so poorly maintained that burrowing rodents have become out-of-control and have threatened the levee's stability.
Thanks to Deb Kollars' research from the Sacramento Bee

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