What work is being done to protect Sacramento from flooding?
SACRAMENTO – The Sacramento region has seen devastating flooding in years past, and every winter, there is concern that another disaster could strike.
Now, with another big storm on the way this week, we’re getting answers about what work is being done to help protect the area when river levels rise.
The Sacramento region has some of the highest flood risk in the country.
“Water that falls as rain or snow can go down into the watershed very quickly,” said Tim Kerr, general manager of the US River Flood Control District.
Sacramento County last saw severe flooding in 2017, and since then, several multi-million dollar projects have been launched in an effort to increase flood protection.
“The projects will create a significantly reduced risk to the Greater Sacramento area,” said David Pesavento of the California Department of Water Resources.
Improvements include levee fortification and an auxiliary spillway at Folsom Dam that can be activated when lake levels are high.
“They can get a head start on those floods and start releasing water more quickly in a flood event,” Kerr said.
Work is also underway to widen the Yolo Bypass and the Sacramento Weir by widening it an additional 1,500 feet. The floodgates are opened during high river flows to divert water and keep downtown Sacramento from reaching flood stage.
So how does expanding the levee help reduce the risk of flooding?
“All of these projects together will lower the water surface elevation in the headwaters of the Sacramento River by almost a foot,” Pesavento said.
Flood protection has also been increased on neighborhood waterways, including a project to fix trash damage to Arcade Creek.
“The erosion had reached the trash, and we just wanted to stop that progress,” Kerr said.
Now, it is polished and protected with 3,000 tons of stone.
Dozens of Sacramento County homeowners have also taken advantage of a FEMA-funded program to raise homes in flood-prone areas. A Walnut Grove home is now 12 feet off the ground.
“It helps because it gets the house out of potential flood danger,” said Matt Robinson of Sacramento County Water Resources. “It will also help reduce a homeowner’s need for flood insurance.”
Every flood control project is an effort to keep people safe when the next big storm hits.
“We really, really don’t want people to be displaced from their homes by major flood events,” Kerr said.
Sacramento County said it still has FEMA money available to shore up even more homes that could be affected by flooding.