Natomas Cross Canal (CPR file/Ben Adler)
Sacramento Congresswoman Doris Matsui has introduced a bill that could lead to more than $450 million of federal funds for Natomas levee renovations.
Right now, says the federal government, the Natomas levees are a huge flood risk. It’s basically banned all new development in the area until the levees are brought up to the government’s minimum safety standard. But while the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency is well into its three-phase renovation project, that same federal government hasn’t even committed to its share of the more than $600 million cost. So far, SAFCA is using state and local funds – and just hoping the feds will help out. Congresswoman Matsui wants to change that.
Matsui: “What this bill does essentially is to get the federal authorization so that you can get the federal funding. Because right now, the work is going on because of the advance funding from SAFCA.”
The Sacramento Democrat hopes to get the authorization passed this year and pursue the money in 2010. The bill next moves to the House’s transportation and infrastructure committee.
Lawsuit Could Slow Progress
Meanwhile, a community group has filed two lawsuits that could put the Natomas levee improvements on hold.
The lawsuits argue that the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers didn’t do a good enough job of analyzing how much environmental damage the levee work would cause.
The Garden Highway Community Association filed the suits. They’re upset that about a thousand trees were removed to make room for the wider levees.