Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Funds for Flood Projects

This story in Tuesday’s Bee notes new federal funding for flood protection in the President’s budget, some to complete a pumping station to withdraw water from the American River for Placer County’s growing domestic needs, creating even more urgency for additional water storage to protect the integrity of the Parkway.

Fund hike for flood aid urged
Bush's budget would help pay for levee repair and a bridge near Folsom Dam.
By David Whitney -- Bee Washington Bureau Published 2:15 am PST Tuesday, February 7, 2006

WASHINGTON - A 2007 federal budget released by the White House on Monday seeks $65 million for Sacramento-area flood control work, a 40 percent increase over what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will spend this year.

Much of the increase will go toward ground preparation for construction of a bridge over the American River near Folsom Dam.

Separately, the Bureau of Reclamation's budget proposes to increase funding for work in the Delta by $1.6 million to $38.6 million, despite an overall $20 million spending cut for the water agency in the Central Valley.

The Sacramento-area congressional delegation was ecstatic about the requested funding levels. In prior years, the delegation has had to fight other states and the White House to increase spending on priority flood control work.

"I am thrilled the president realizes how important these flood control and water projects are to our region," said Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville.

Doolittle is a senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee's energy and water subcommittee that writes funding bills for the corps and bureau.

Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, said that what's so remarkable about the corps' proposed spending level is that it falls only $5 million short of the $70 million worth of work the agency figures it will be ready to do next year.

That "capability" level was underfunded by almost half this year, even after Congress boosted 2006 spending by more than $7 million over the president's request one year ago.

Matsui called the White House budget request "a signal, a federal recognition" that in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the devastating consequences in New Orleans, the flood threat to Sacramento has taken on new urgency.

"I am very pleased," she said. "This is something to work with. We'll definitely try to increase it. But this does position us well for the appropriations process."

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, said the budget "looks like a greater emphasis on our concerns than we've seen in previous budgets."

Lungren said he was particularly gratified to see that the administration was moving ahead on the Folsom bridge and "believes it is a priority."

The budget proposal would:

* Boost spending on strengthening American River and Sacramento River levees from $4.4 million approved by Congress for 2006 to $17.4 million next year. Spending on levee work along four south Sacramento streams would double to about $7.3 million.

* Increase spending on a project to raise the height of Folsom Dam - which includes construction of a bridge over the American River immediately downstream from the dam - from $15 million in 2006 to $23.4 million next year."