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 2013—the companion bill to Rep. Doris Matsui’s H.R. 135—authorizes essential levee improvements in Natomas, including $921.2 million in federal contributions. The improvements protect residents between the American and Sacramento rivers where the Corps of Engineers estimates the risk of levee failure at 1 in 3, with damages from a single flood totaling as much as $7 billion.

“Thousands of Natomas residents are living behind levees that the Corps of Engineers calls unsafe, fearful that the next big flood will wipe them out,” said Senator Feinstein. “There is a clear federal responsibility to provide flood protection for these residents, and further delay would be unconscionable. The project is shovel-ready, has a 6-1 cost-benefit ratio and is strongly supported by the local community. Senator Boxer, Representative Matsui and I are firmly committed to seeing that Congress acts quickly to provide this critical investment in infrastructure.”

Tax measures approved by Sacramento voters have provided more than $80 million of local funding for flood control projects in the Natomas area. California has also invested heavily in the project. The combined state and local contributions exceed $400 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. As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am also working with my colleagues on Water Resource Development Act legislation that will authorize critical projects to protect communities across the nation, including the Natomas basin, from dangerous flooding.”

If the levees fail in Sacramento, the results would 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.