J levee not added to updated repair list
BARBARA ARRIGONI - Chico ER Staff Writer
HAMILTON CITY -- Hamilton City's battered and deteriorating J levee is still not slated for emergency repair, although a levee in Colusa County is one of five added last week to the state's official list of critical erosion sites slated for repair this summer.
The California Department of Water Resources announced Thursday the addition of five levees to a list of 24 critical erosion sites already designated for repair by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It isn't that authorities aren't aware of the dire condition of the J levee. Bill Bird, communications director for state Sen. Sam Aanestad, said everyone knows how badly the levee is deteriorating.
"Let's hope we get it done before it breaks," Bird said Monday. "It appears to be a levee in dire need and can qualify as a critical site."
One reason the J levee isn't on the list is that it's a private levee and not a federal project levee, he said. All 29 levees on the critical sites list were constructed with federal money, he said.
The J levee was built in 1904 by the Holly Sugar Co. to protect farmland. The company no longer has a local operations base, he said, adding that the J levee is owned "by someone in Minnesota."
"They're not paying attention to it," Bird said.
Meanwhile, DWR spokes-man Oscar Hidalgo confirmed Monday that one of the five levees added last week is at river mile 154.5 near Colusa.
Four other Colusa County sites were already on the list, including one at river mile marker 164.0 near Princeton at the Glenn-Colusa County line.
Repair is set to begin on some of the critical sites in June, and all 29 levees listed are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The state has set aside $100 million for the repair project. Last week, President Bush authorized a waiver allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to receive $23 million from the state to perform some of the repairs, according to a press release.
Hidalgo said DWR is continuing to collect and survey additional sites identified by the Corps of Engineers that need either "minor, potentially critical or critical" repair. Twenty sites are on that list, including the J levee.
Hidalgo said the survey team hasn't yet been to the J levee to determine its repair need, but will probably evaluate it within a couple of weeks to determine if it needs to be repaired and the best way to repair it, possibly through local governments. He said there may be other emergency funds that could be used.
He also said that since the J levee is a private levee, DWR has to determine who is responsible for maintenance and repair.
Some threat does remain to all the levees over the next few months due to a large snowpack. Although the rivers are expected to remain high from snow runoff for the next weeks or months, Hidalgo said repair of the 29 levees should see a completion date of November.
Staff writer Barbara Arrigoni can be reached at 896-7757 or email@example.com.
BACKGROUND: Recently, the governor named 24 California levees as critical repair sites. Storms in January, March and this month have caused high-water erosion along the Sacramento River at the J levee in Hamilton City.
WHAT'S NEW: Five more levees have been added to the list of critical erosion sites, including a site in Colusa.
The J levee was not added to the list.
WHAT'S NEXT: Repair of the 29 levees listed begins in June and may be completed by November.
"Copyrighted article reprinted with permission"