Feinstein Issues Wish List of Army Corps’ Water Projects

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is requesting $1.3 billion in federal funding for several projects that would improve California’s flood control, shoreline protection and water system infrastructure.

The funding requests include $921 million for levee improvements in the Sacramento area and $106 million for deepening of the Stockton Deep Water Channel that serves the ports of Stockton and Oakland. Among other projects, the senator also is asking for hundreds of millions of dollars for erosion control and coastline restoration in Solana Beach and San Clemente, Calif.

Feinstein made the requests in a letter dated Oct. 11 to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works concerning projects that she says should be authorized in the 2012 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The most recent version of the WRDA was passed by Congress in 2007.

In her letter, Feinstein also backs two policy changes. One is the reappraisal of a controversial U.S. Army Corps of Engineers policy that prohibits vegetation on or near levees. Feinstein’s letter says the Corps has not provided “hard evidence” that the policy makes levees safer. “The State of California has estimated the cost of clearing vegetation from its 2,100 miles of levees would be $7 billion,” Feinstein’s letter says. The senator wants the 2012 WRDA to include the proposed H.R. 5831, the Levee Vegetation Review Act of 2012, which would prompt the Secretary of the Army to review the existing levee vegetation policy. H.R. 5831 was introduced in May by U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and has bipartisan support within the California delegation.

Feinstein also asks that credit be restored to water agencies that do early work on projects that are being studied by the Corps. The move, which is backed by the California Department of Water Resources, could bring $515 million of credit to California water agencies over the next 10 years.

Here are more details about the improvement projects Feinstein is seeking funding for:

  • Feinstein is seeking $921 million in federal funding for the Natomas Levee Improvement Project, which will widen 42 miles of existing levees in the Sacramento area, and, Feinstein’s letter says, would provide flood protection to 100,000 people.
  • Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) is seeking $20 million more to complete a $96.5 million project that will replace eight miles of levee along the Contra Costa Canal with a buried pipeline.
  • Stanislaus County is seeking $30 million for flood control projects along Orestimba Creek that would achieve 100-year flood protection.
  • The city of Big Bear Lake is pursuing $9 million in federal funding for pipeline and storage projects that would help the local water system comply with state firefighting regulations.
  • The city of Solana Beach wants $165,000 million to shore up bluffs (and protect 500 homes atop them) along the Encinitas and Solana Beach shoreline.
  • The city of San Clemente is pursuing $96 million for projects that would prevent soil erosion around the San Clemente Pier.

Feinstein’s letter can be downloaded here.