Friday, December 21, 2007

Levee Suit

In what has become standard practice around any public policy decision, especially those involving levees and dams providing flood protection, a law suit has been filed against the Natomas Levee project.

Residents file suit over levee project
By Matt Weiser -
Published 12:00 am PST Friday, December 21, 2007

A coalition of Garden Highway residents filed suit Wednesday against Sacramento's flood control agency, alleging a massive levee project planned in the city's Natomas basin fails to address a host of potential environmental problems.

The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency approved the $400 million Natomas levee project Nov. 29. The agency's board, made up of city and county elected officials, approved both an environmental impact report and the first phase of construction, planned for summer 2008.

The project would raise and widen nearly 25 miles of levees bordering the Natomas basin to satisfy federal flood control officials.

In 2006, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that Natomas levees don't meet new underseepage criteria.

Subsequently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency declared that the region will lose its 100-year flood safety certification, forcing the basin's 70,000 residents to buy flood insurance and likely causing development restrictions.

The project aims to correct these deficiencies by 2010.

But the Garden Highway group, which represents about 100 homeowners, fears a variety of harmful consequences from the project.

Many homes along the road are built on the water-side of the levee, which follows the Sacramento River.

The lower floors of these homes routinely flood when the river swells, and many are elevated to accommodate this.

But the SAFCA project will raise the levee as much as 3 feet, and residents fear their flood depths also will rise as a result, causing more damage.

Some also worry that deep seepage walls proposed in parts of the project could halt the flow of groundwater and compromise their drinking water wells.

"The Garden Highway Community Association wants flood protection for Natomas just like the people of Natomas," said the group's spokesman, Patrick Tully. "Unfortunately, SAFCA has been dismissive of our very real concerns, including the true impact of this monstrous project."