Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Leaky Levees

Tougher standards, primarily the result of the devastation broadcast on the daily news during the Katrina disaster in New Orleans, are good for the community; and one hopes the continuing focus will soon result in the Sacramento region adopting the need to obtain a 500 year level of flood protection for our communities as most other major river cities have.

Editorial: More leaky levees
West Sac gets a better handle on flood risk
Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It looks as if West Sacramento will be joining the growing ranks of communities in the Central Valley that are finding flaws in their flood control systems because they are looking harder for problems.

Based on a recent review of its levee system, the city is learning that a widespread weakness in the flood walls -- underseepage -- affects West Sacramento as well.

Standards that identify seepage-prone levees are tougher than they used to be. It's doubtful that most levees will pass the underseepage test unless they have been upgraded recently. The news coming from West Sacramento is not surprising.

West Sacramento's major problem is one that boils down to advertising. Based on an outdated review of its levee system (before that underseepage test got tougher and more realistic), the city claimed it had 300-year protection from floods along the Sacramento River. The city didn't change that claim when the levee standards changed. After Hurricane Katrina (who knows -- maybe those stories in The Bee about flood control issues had an effect as well), West Sacramento officials made the right decision to conduct a new round of geotechnical studies of the levees.