As this editorial from the Sacramento Bee makes clear, Sacramento is the most flood prone city west of New Orleans, not good, and the strategies being offered to fix that aren’t good either.
Fixing levees—and yes we need strong levees—is a cheap way to fix a very expensive problem when what is needed is a dam, specifically, the Auburn Dam, which provides 400 year flood protection while the levees give us 200.
An excerpt from the Bee.
Sacramento remains the most flood-prone U.S. city this side of New Orleans
Much of Sacramento’s charm flows from the American and Sacramento rivers. Those rivers also are a threat.
The weak El Niño and years of drought notwithstanding, Sacramento remains the most flood-prone U.S. city this side of New Orleans. For all the levee work that has been completed – $2 billion worth since 1990 – more is needed.
On Thursday, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency Board of Directors will meet to consider calling again on property owners in the region’s flood-prone areas to vote to dig a little deeper.
If the board approves the vote, as seems likely, ballots would be mailed on April 29 to property owners in flood zones. They’d have 45 days to cast their votes. The flood control agency plans to hold meetings in May to explain the costs and benefits of the assessment. …
The goal is to protect all areas in flood zones against 200-year floods by 2025, a requirement of state law. The alternative – rejection of the levee – could result in a halt to new construction and higher flood insurance premiums for property owners.
Flood control work isn’t glamorous, like a new sports arena, or interesting, like a striking piece of public art. It’s scarcely noticed, unlike, say, a repaved freeway or a new overpass.
Levee work is more like insurance. No want wants to spend money to insure against a calamity that may not happen any time soon. But when the deluge comes – and history tells us that it will arrive one day – we’ll all be glad when the levees hold.