- Regional Planning and Implementation Phases of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan to Begin in 2013
On June 29, 2012 the Central Valley Flood Protection Board ("Flood Board") adopted a Final Central Valley Board Protection Plan ("Flood Plan"). This was the culmination of six months of deliberations on a Draft Flood Plan prepared by the Department of Water Resources ("Department").
The final Flood Plan includes concept-level proposals to widen the Sutter and Yolo Bypasses, to restore thousands of acres of riparian habitat in the floodplains, to add a new bypass in the South Delta, and to purchase easements for possible seasonal flooding of lands outside of the levees. (See Overview of Issue below.)
Rather than an endpoint, the Flood Board's adoption of the final Flood Plan marked the beginning of a new regional planning and implementation phase.
Starting in early 2013, regional planning efforts will move forward in five regional planning areas spanning the Central Valley, from the Sacramento Valley, to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, to the San Joaquin Valley.
Because the regional planning phase of Flood Plan implementation may impact tens of thousands of acres of existing agricultural lands—and also, more generally, because of the significant public safety and flood management issues for Central Valley communities—involvement from affected local interests, including local agricultural interests, will be essential.
The purpose of regional planning in 2013 and beyond is to identify priority regional projects for incorporation into two large "Basinwide Feasibility Studies." Expected to be completed around 2016, these feasibility studies will deal with major Flood Plan system elements, including proposed bypass expansions and levee setbacks in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River Basins.
Much of the work in regional planning will be carried out by local flood agencies (typically reclamation and flood control districts), with technical assistance from the Department. In addition, the Flood Board is expected to engage in a coordinating role and as the ultimate permitting agency.
Regional planning, involving coordination among affected stakeholders, will be led by one agency in each of five separate regions. The five regions and the regional entities leading the planning efforts in them are as follows:
- Upper and Mid-Sacramento Region: Reclamation District 108
- Feather River Region: Sutter-Butte Flood Control Agency (SBFCA) / Three Levees Levee Improvements Authority (TRLIA)
- Lower Sacramento/Delta North Region: West Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (WSAFCA)
- Lower Sacramento/Delta South: San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency (SJAFCA)
- Mid-San Joaquin Region: Reclamation District 2092 / County of Stanislaus
- Upper San Joaquin Region: Lower San Joaquin Levee District (LSJLD) / San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors Water Authority (SJRECWA)
As noted, regional planning within the five regions will occur in parallel with separate Basinwide Feasibility Study efforts led by the Department and the Army Corps of Engineers ("Corps"). To be completed around 2016, these Basinwide Feasibility Studies will focus on major system-wide elements, including proposed bypass expansions and setbacks, and will integrate select local projects and recommendations identified in Regional Planning. In addition, the Department will be leading development of a separate Central Valley Flood System Conservation Strategy ("Conservation Strategy"), focusing on regional habitat and species mitigation components of plan implementation.
Interested local agricultural interests are encouraged to keep informed of the regional planning efforts in their areas by staying in touch with their county Farm Bureaus, reclamation districts, elected representatives, and local water management agencies.
Additional information and periodic updates on the regional planning and implementation phases of the Department's Flood Plan process will be provided on this website. In addition, interested persons can visit the Flood Board's website (www.cvfpb.ca.gov), and the Department's Central Valley Flood Management Plan and Regional Flood Management Planning websites (wwwdwr.water.ca.gov/cvfmp and wwwdwr.water.ca.gov/cvfmp/regionalplan).
Overview of Issues
Central Valley Flood Protection Plan
The state of California (through the Department of Water Resources and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board) has prepared a Central Valley Flood Protection Plan. Required by legislation passed in 2007, the Flood Plan is intended to guide an estimated $14 billion to $17 billion of investment in the Central Valley state-federal flood system during a 20-to-25-year period.
A major feature of the long-term Flood Plan is the creation of a proposed 40,000 acres of new flood space or system capacity, by means of "setback levees" and "bypass expansions" on lands that are mostly now farmland. Of this approximately 40,000-acre footprint, the Draft Flood Plan indicates that 25 percent (about 10,000 acres) would become permanent habitat. According to the Draft Plan, the remaining 75 percent (about 30,000 acres) would remain farmable, subject to flood easements and seasonal flooding, similar to farming in the existing bypasses today.
In addition to these 40,000 acres of habitat and 10,000 restored habitat in new or existing flood bypass areas, the plan also proposed to modify levees and acquire flood easements an overlapping 50,000-75,000 acres. The purpose of these easements would be to allow lands in agricultural and rural areas to provide additional flood protection to urban areas downstream and to function as "transitional storage" by temporarily receiving excess flood waters. Specifically, the plan proposes creating the equivalent of 200,000 acre-feet of "transitional storage" in the Sacramento Valley, and 100,000 acre-feet in the San Joaquin River system.
In addition to 10,000 acres of restored habitat, new bypass and setbacks on 40,000 acres of acquisition, and 50,000-75,000 acres, the Flood Plan also proposes to place 70,000 to 115,000 acres of Central Valley land under agricultural conservation easement. While it seems these lands would continue to be farmed, it is presently unclear what types of restrictions would apply.
The footprint and rough locations of the proposed setback and bypass expansion features are shown in yellow, in a map (PDF, 2.3 MB) from the Flood Plan.
Elements of the Flood Plan could have major implications for farmers and ranchers in the Sacramento Valley and require meaningful involvement from affected communities and individuals. Farm Bureau, through this webpage and other efforts, will work to inform landowners and other affected people in the Sacramento Valley so that this involvement can occur.
Background information, pertinent documents, links, and periodic updates will be posted on this webpage for individuals interested in weighing in on the Flood Plan for their local communities and private agricultural operations.Top
FEMA National Flood Insurance Program Legislative Effort
Farm Bureau is working with a coalition toward legislative reform of the Federal Emergency Management Agency National Flood Insurance Program, to create a special designation for rural and agricultural areas. The need for such reform can be briefly summarized as follows:
As result of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, FEMA is engaged in a nationwide effort to remap floodplain zones throughout the United States. Based on mapped floodplain zones, FEMA has authority to "decertify" levees that do not meet specified minimum protective standards. Rural and agricultural levees typically do not meet heightened FEMA protective standards for levees.
Property owners in areas where levees have been decertified must maintain federally subsidized flood insurance through the FEMA-administered National Flood Insurance Program—and building permits for new structures, including both residential and agricultural structures and facilities, may be delayed or denied.
For more information on this issue, see coverage in Ag Alert, as well as other links and updates to be periodically posted on this page.Top
Key Documents and Links Related to Central Valley Issues and Processes
- California Farm Bureau Jun. 1, 2012, Comments on CVFPB 6/1/12 Draft Adoption Resolution (PDF, 84 KB)
- California Farm Bureau Apr. 20, 2012, Comments on the Public Draft 2012 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (PDF, 238 KB)
- California Farm Bureau Apr. 20, 2012, Comments on the March 2012 CVFPP DPEIR (PDF, 200 KB)
- California Farm Bureau Apr. 11, 2012, Comments on Public Draft 2012 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (PDF, 75 KB)
- California Farm Bureau Feb. 24, 2012, Comments on the Public Draft 2012 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (PDF, 264 KB)
- Dec. 30, 2011, Draft Central Valley Flood Protection Plan
- Central Valley Flood Plan Setback and Bypass Expansion Map (PDF, 2.3 MB)
- October 2011 "Rural Flood Protection in the Sacramento Valley" Issue Paper (prepared and transmitted to the Department of Water Resources by the Sacramento Valley Flood Control Action Work Group) (PDF, 2 MB)
- California Farm Bureau Nov. 15, 2011, Comments on DWR Working Draft Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (PDF, 219 KB)
- Legislation – Senate Bill No. 5 (PDF, 122 KB)
- Central Valley Flood Protection Board
- Department of Water Resources Central Valley Flood Management Planning Program
- Flood Plan Excerpts of Interest
Proposed Bypass Expansion and Levee Setback Areas By County
A map of proposed bypass and setback areas is shown below. For comparison, Google Earth view satellite images of potentially affected areas are also provided.
*Links provided show the approximate locations, by county, of the bypass and setback areas shown in DWR's "Major Capital Improvements" map (PDF, 2.3 MB).
- Butte County/Colusa County
- CVFPP Proposed Cherokee Canal Bypass Area
- Sutter County/Sacramento County
- CVFPP Proposed Sutter Causeway Expansion, Reach 1, Yuba City/Highway 20 to Trowbridge
- CVFPP Proposed Sutter Bypass Expansion Reach 2, Trowbridge to Fremont Weir/Sacramento International Airport
- Sacramento County/Yolo County
- CVFPP Proposed Yolo Bypass Expansion Reach 1, Fremont Weir to Putah Creek
- Yolo County
- CVFPP Proposed Yolo Bypass Expansion Reach 2, Putah Creek to Stair Step Levee/Liberty Island
- Yolo County/Solano County
- CVFPP Proposed Yolo Bypass Expansion Reach 3, Yolano to Rio Vista/Hastings Tract, Egbert Tract
- San Joaquin County
- CVFPP Proposed South Delta Bypass Expansion (Stewart Tract, Pescadero District & Paradise Junction)
- Flood protection efforts shift to local, regional groups (Dec. 5, 2012
- Valley flood plan to be adopted; next phase begins (June 27, 2012)
- Commentary: Public must stay involved in Central Valley flood planning (May 2, 2012)
- At hearings, farmers express concerns about flood plan (Apr. 11, 2012)
- Commentary: Board needs to hear about flood plan impact on farms (Feb. 22, 2012)
- Draft flood plan includes some farmland losses (Feb. 1, 2012)
- Remapped flood zones mean new restrictions (Nov. 23, 2011)
- Calif approves flood plan for Central Valley (Associated Press, June 29, 2012)
- Ag land at risk in flood plan? (Sacramento Business Journal, Feb. 17, 2012)