Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today urged President Bush to provide $92.4 million in his 2007 budget to fund “urgent flood control needs” in Sacramento and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“A major levee breach could imperil hundreds of thousands of people and endanger most of the State’s water supply,” Senator Feinstein said. “We believe that the best course of action is to proceed expeditiously on the projects that will provide the most protection to population centers and infrastructure.”

President Bush is scheduled to unveil his 2007 budget on February 6. In a letter to the President, Senator Feinstein and Governor Schwarzenegger said it was critically important that the federal government provide funds to match efforts already underway by the State.

Senator Feinstein also welcomed an announcement of a flood control bond proposal today by California State Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, and Assembly Members Lois Wolk (D-Davis), Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), John Laird (D-Santa Cruz) and Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara). And she pledged to work with the State Legislature and the Governor to reach a bipartisan solution to the issue.

In their letter to President Bush, Senator Feinstein and Governor Schwarzenegger wrote: “The recent Northern California storms are one more signal that action is needed now. While California avoided a Hurricane Katrina-type disaster, its levees and flood control systems must be strengthened in order to adequately protect lives, property, and the state’s vibrant economy. There is also a great risk of levee failures in the critical Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta due to the presence of several active earthquake faults in the vicinity of the Delta. A recent University of California study concluded that there is a 66 percent chance that either a major earthquake or flood would lead to catastrophic levee failure in the Delta within the next 50 years.”

The following is the text of the letter to President Bush:

January 25, 2006

The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

When you were in the Gulf Coast region earlier this month to address the reconstruction efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, you discussed the courage, determination, compassion and decency exhibited by Americans as they responded to the challenge of this disaster. Many Californians who responded to the region, including members of the California National Guard, the California Highway Patrol, the California Conservation Corps and California-based Disaster Medical Assistance, Urban Search and Rescue and Swift Water Rescue teams, returned with similar observations and a renewed understanding of the need for comprehensive preparedness efforts. Given the clear need to expand preparedness efforts throughout the United States, we are committed to working with you during the consideration of the 2007 Budget to aggressively address urgent flood control needs in California.

California’s flood control system faces two immediate challenges:

  • The first threat is to the City of Sacramento. With a 100-year level of flood protection, Sacramento has the lowest flood protection of any major river city in the United States. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had a 250-year level of flood protection. Several high priority projects in the region, identified below, will require federal participation to raise flood protection up to a 200-year level.
  • The second threat is to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta levee system. This network of fragile earthen levees protects communities, valuable agricultural land, key transportation and utility corridors and our State’s fresh water supply. If major levee failures were to occur, homes, farms, roads, rail, energy pipelines and power lines would be flooded and water supplies would be contaminated by salt water and other pollutants. Such an event would jeopardize the water supply of 23 million Californians as well as the irrigation of more than three million acres of the most productive agricultural land in the nation.

In October 2005, we brought to your attention a list of high priority projects and actions that California is prepared to accelerate this year if funds are made available to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. We ask that you include in your budget request the following Sacramento District projects:

  1. $9.7 million, South Sacramento County Streams; the State cost share for this amount for this project, $3.7 million, has already been appropriated.
  2. $7.3 million, Sacramento River Bank Protection; the State cost share for this amount for this project, $2.4 million, has already been appropriated.
  3. $17.4 million, American River Common Features; the State cost share for this amount for this project, $6.6 million, is fully funded in the Governor’s proposed FY 2006-07 budget.
  4. $29.4 million, American River Folsom Modifications and Folsom Dam Raise;the State cost share for this amount for this project, $11.1 million, is fully funded in the Governor’s proposed FY 2006-07 budget.
  5. $6.0 million for levee projects identified in the CalFed 180-Day Study California cost-share; the State match of $6.0 million for this study is partially funded in the Governor’s proposed FY 2006-07 budget. The remaining cost share wouldbe funded through the Governor’s proposed Flood Protection and Clean, Safe, Reliable Water Supply Bond and Financing Act of 2006.
  6. $2.0 million, Delta Islands and Levees Feasibility Study to conduct the Delta Risk Management Strategy; the State match of $2.0 million for this study is fully funded in the Governor’s proposed FY 2006-07 budget.
  7. $8.0 million, Levee System Evaluation and FEMA certification process; the estimated State cost share for this amount would be fully funded from the Governor’s proposed bond.
  8. $4.5 million, Natomas Reimbursement to the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.
  9. $4.7 million, Mid-Valley Levee Reconstruction; the State cost share for this amount for this project, $1.1 million, has already been appropriated.
  10. $1.5 million, Yuba River Basin; the State cost share for this amount for this project, $0.6 million, has already been appropriated.
  11. $300,000 for Lower Cache Creek; the State cost share for this amount would be fully funded from the Governor’s proposed bond.
  12. $1.6 million, Middle Creek; the State cost share for this amount would be fully funded from the Governor’s proposed bond.

The recent Northern California storms are one more signal that action is needed now. While California avoided a Hurricane Katrina-type disaster, its levees and flood control systems must be strengthened in order to adequately protect lives, property, and the state’s vibrant economy. There is also a great risk of levee failures in the critical Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta due to the presence of several active earthquake faults in the vicinity of the Delta. A recent University of California study concluded that there is a 66 percent chance that either a major earthquake or flood would lead to catastrophic levee failure in the Delta within the next 50 years.

We look forward to working with you to secure the $92.4 million necessary to complete these public safety priorities. With the Strategic Growth Plan and California’s Proposed Budget for Fiscal Year 2006-2007, California is prepared to provide its full cost-share for these priority projects. As critical projects for the San Francisco and Los Angeles Districts of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are developed, the Strategic Growth Plan will be able to provide the appropriate State cost-share for these projects.

We appreciate your assistance with this critical public safety matter.

Sincerely,

Arnold Schwarzenegger     Dianne Feinstein