Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Funds are Needed

And probably more will be needed as long overdue flood protection infrastructure finally becomes part of the public policy of our state.

It is to be hoped that as this process evolves and more focus is given to the flood protection options, the short-sighted taboo against dams playing a major role will evaporate as more serious policy emerges from public leadership on top of the issue.

No shortage of uses for anti-flood funds
A top priority will be figuring how to speed repairs - and raise cash.
By Deb Kollars - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PST Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Back in November, California voters said yes to spending $4.9 billion for greater protection against flooding, touching off an unprecedented wave of state tax dollars for levee work and floodwater management.

On Tuesday, for the first time, legislators and the state's top flood officials gathered at the Capitol to start the process of hashing out how they'll spend money from Propositions 1E and 84, which target a range of flood control improvements.

High on the priority list: how to speed up levee studies and repairs, and how to raise even more money because -- big as they are -- the new bond packages will not be enough.

Previous estimates pegged California's flood control needs, the bulk in the Central Valley, at $12 billion to $13 billion. Those figures could climb into the $16 billion to $18 billion range, pending further study, according to Lester Snow, director of the state Department of Water Resources.

Snow was among those testifying before the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. Tuesday's hearing was called by state Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat from Sacramento who is the new committee chair.

"This is urgent," Steinberg said. "The bottom line is public safety. This is an issue we need to stay on every week and every month."