Press Releases

Feinstein, Boxer Introduce Bill to Improve Sacramento Levees

Upgrades flood control for 100,000 Californians in Natomas Basin

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today introduced legislation authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve the flood control infrastructure in the Sacramento area, safeguarding many thousands of homes and businesses.

The Natomas Basin Flood Protection Improvements Act of 2011—the companion bill to Rep. Doris Matsui’s H.R. 433—authorizes up to $1.389 billion in essential levee improvements in Natomas, an area between the American and Sacramento rivers. The Corps of Engineers estimates the risk of Natomas levee failure at 1 in 3, with damages from a single flood totaling as much as $7 billion.

“Unfortunately, flooding in Sacramento is not a question of if, but when,” said Senator Feinstein. “More than 100,000 people in the Natomas flood plain are at high or moderate risk of flooding. This legislation will make significant improvements and upgrades to the Sacramento flood protection infrastructure, and the cost will be split between the federal government and state and local parties.”

Tax measures approved by voters will provide more than $80 million of local funding for flood control projects in the Natomas area. In addition, local interests have already provided about $40 million in advance of federal participation—a total commitment of $120 million.

“I share Sen. Feinstein’s strong commitment to protecting Sacramento residents from the devastation of a flood,” said Senator Boxer. “This legislation highlights the critical need for federal support of state and local efforts to strengthen levees and improve flood control measures to better protect thousands of homes and businesses in the Natomas basin.”

The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) and the California Department of Water Resources have invested more than $320 million in the Natomas Basin project and repaired about 18 miles of the basin’s 42 miles of levees. By the end of 2012, this amount will increase to $370 million.

Sacramento residents and homeowners understand this levee improvement project is critical to the long term safety and viability of their community. Even during one of the worst economic downturns in a generation, voters stood together to raise the necessary local funds and sent a definitive message to this Congress,” continued Feinstein. “We need to do our part and provide the federal funding for these critical infrastructure improvements.”

If the levees fail in Sacramento, the results will be devastating:

  • Sacramento International Airport, which serves 4.4 million passengers annually and is the primary air-cargo hub for the region, will be largely underwater.
  • Interstate 5, Interstate 80 and State Route 99 will be closed or restricted. These roads serve as freight arteries and facilitate the passage of more than 2,500 trucks per day.
  • Access to the Port of West Sacramento, the city’s primary seaport, will be jeopardized.

 “I applaud Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for their continued commitment to improving Sacramento’s flood protection,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento). “As momentum towards a WRDA bill continues, our legislation will ensure Natomas continues to be at the forefront of that debate. The Natomas Flood Improvement Program is a critical public safety project that will protect 100,000 people, create over 2,500 jobs, and ensure our community is properly protected; it cannot be delayed. I thank Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer for introducing companion legislation to my H.R. 433 in the Senate, and I look forward to continuing to work with them and our colleagues to ensure the project is authorized, funded and completed.”