This story in the Thursday, February 23, 2006 edition of the Bee, signifies a potentially wonderful first step in renewing the flood protection coalition, though with different politicians, that several years ago resulted in the approval of the Auburn Dam, promising 500 year flood protection for Sacramento.
The politics are still very dicey, but as one participant in the outing to inspect the levees mentioned, the folks along the Santa Ana River in Southern California did it and secured $1.4 billion for flood protection, and on a much less threatening situation in terms of the potential size of the disaster than exists here, so working together does, as it always has, still work.
Here is an excerpt.
Drive to fix levees boosted
Congressional team, after tour, vows to seek more funding.
By Deb Kollars — Bee Staff WriterPublished 2:15 am PST Thursday, February 23, 2006
A helicopter tour Wednesday of the region’s river levees so punctuated the flooding risks in the capital that state Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other congressional leaders vowed to seek emergency funding in Washington and to help Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger get a state bond issue passed.
The aerial excursion over the American, Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers was an eye-opener.
“You can have all of that area inundated by water?” Feinstein asked through her on-board headset as she passed over the southern end of Natomas, a growing region north of downtown vulnerable to deep flooding.
While in the air, the Democratic senator turned from asking technical questions about levees to asking her seatmate, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, whether he thought they could secure $36 million in extra federal dollars to help with a package of urgent levee repairs in Sacramento.
By the time they hit the ground, the two were talking strategies for getting it done.
Area flood control agencies received close to $40 million in federal funds for the current year, said a spokeswoman for Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, who joined her congressional colleagues on the tour. But the agencies needed almost twice that much to complete the work they were ready to do this year.
If the supplemental funding can be secured through an emergency appropriation bill – Pombo and Feinstein stressed it would be difficult in the tight budget climate – it would include $17 million for Pocket-area levees. Right now, the neighborhood does not even have the 100-year protection considered minimal by federal standards.
“We think that’s an emergency,” Feinstein said during a news conference on a Pocket levee following the tour. “We will try very hard to get it.”
Feinstein, Pombo and Matsui were among a contingent of elected officials who joined the Republican governor in what was billed as a bipartisan effort to find solutions for Sacramento’s flood control problems.
Others on Wednesday’s tour: Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo and a representative for California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer. Leaders for the state Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency also took part.