March 2, 2017 – After a five-year drought, California is on pace to have its wettest year on record. While the rain is badly needed, the series of storms that have battered California have also created serious flooding and exposed California’s need for comprehensive investment in flood control infrastructure. Communities throughout the region have had to evacuate, including residents in Colusa, Yuba and Sutter Counties. It is not acceptable for people to be left worrying whether a heavy storm will flood their homes and communities. We must do better.
Flooding is an all too familiar threat to those in Northern California. Major levee failures threatened Yuba County in 1986 and 1997, while a disastrous 1955 flood left 30 dead and forced more than 30,000 to evacuate their homes. Between December 1996 and January 1997, the Sacramento Valley experienced devastating flooding that destroyed thousands of crop acres and property. We saw history repeat itself earlier this month when erosion to Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway threatened major flooding and forced nearly 200,000 people to flee their homes. Thankfully, we avoided a major disaster this time—but even so, the lives of the evacuees were upended as they missed work and school, spent money on hotels and supplies, and lost sleep under the weight of the stress they endured. All of this can be prevented if state and federal officials work together to ensure our water infrastructure is maintained at the highest safety standards.
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In the 114th Congress, I worked with my colleagues to develop the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act and advocated for flood protection in the federal budget. This work advanced major flood safety projects critical to Northern California: The Hamilton City Levee Project, the Feather River West Levee Project in Yuba City, the Marysville Ring Levee, the West Sacramento Flood Control Project, the American River Common Features Levee Project in Sacramento, and the Cache Creek Settling Basin in Yolo County. While I am proud to see these projects become a reality, we need to do more to adequately protect our communities from flooding, and ensure that existing projects are not stalled by bureaucratic delays. This will require a stronger investment in California’s existing water infrastructure, as well as the creation of new water storage—like Sites Reservoir, which could take pressure off our levees by taking on increased flood flows in the wet months.
There is no more time for talk; the people of Northern California demand action. As your Representative in Congress, I am committed to fighting for your safety and to ensure your home and community have proper flood control protections.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call my office in Davis at 530-753-5301, Fairfield at 707-438-1822, or Yuba City at 530-329-8865. You can also find me on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/repgaramendi or Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/repgaramendi.
My staff and I are deeply honored to serve you.
Congressman John Garamendi