Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Independent Flood Agency

The politics around flood control are strong, often to the detriment of the community, and one hopes this planned for staff independence ensures a stronger mission of optimal community safety, which would include establishing a goal of reaching a 500 year level of flood protection for the Sacramento region, which most major river cities in the country—Tacoma, St. Louis, Dallas, & Kansas City—already have.

Sacramento has not yet reached a 200 year level and New Orleans had a 250 year level when Katrina hit.

Proposal calls for making flood agency independent
By Matt Weiser - mweiser@sacbee.com
Published 12:00 am PST Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Sacramento's pivotal flood-control agency could soon pull away from its government hosts and add new staff members under a proposal to manage an unprecedented workload.

The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency was formed in 1989 by Sacramento County, Sutter County and the city of Sacramento. Elected officials from each of those entities form its 13-member board.

It was conceived as a temporary agency to achieve greater flood protection for the region. But technical requirements to get levees to 200-year protection – tough enough to withstand storm-driven flows so strong they occur only once every two centuries – have changed repeatedly and are now more stringent. The agency's once "temporary" task is now a long-term goal.

In addition, local voters in April approved a $326 million property tax assessment, which will be matched with state and federal funds to build nearly $3 billion in flood-control projects.

As a result the agency's annual budget has tripled since last year to $106 million. Yet staffing has changed little: The agency has just 11 employees who are technically on loan from the city and county of Sacramento. Only two are engineers.

To deal with the workload and the challenges of recruiting and retaining staff, a consultant's report this month recommends SAFCA sever administrative ties with its creators. It would remain a joint-powers agency of the three governments, but with an independent staff.