Sac River plan harmful to humans

President of the Family Water Alliance, a non-profit, private-property-rights advocacy organization based in Maxwell.
One of the most harmful aspects of the Sacramento River Conservation Area (SRCA) plan is sanctioning the use of setback levees to solve problems SRCA would help to create.

These problems are increased flood hazards and an environmental concept that seeks to end the use of rip-rap (rock facing) on levees so wildlife will have more habitat.

The flood hazards will come when the SRCA’s goal of developing riparian forests between the levees is achieved. We all know what happens when a drainage channel is clogged by vegetation—the water level rises and may overflow the banks.

There are good indications that this is what happened at Meridian in 1997, when vegetation in a refuge in the Sutter Bypass served as a “dam,” raising the water level during peak flows. Some observers believe this was the cause of the levee break.

SRCA’s plan to create a continuous riparian jungle from Keswick in Shasta County to Verona, 222 miles downstream, would subject communities and farms along that stretch to a greater likelihood of flooding.

It is apparent that an attempt to offset the loss of carrying capacity of the river—and to allow more river meandering—is to be realized by setting back the levees.

But the obvious question becomes: How long will it take for the vegetation to fill up the newly expanded floodway?

Another main reason setback levees will be sought is to avoid the replacement of rip-rap on banks where it was previously placed but where the banks are now eroding.

Some environmentalists, who value threatened animal species above the safety of people, want these locations converted to habitat. They would provide flood protection by setting the levees farther back.

This concept is readily apparent in a biological opinion proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The opinion would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to rip-rap in some locations but at two others—above Colusa and below Knights Landing—it would require that setback levees be built.

The same misguided approach is evident in the comprehensive study of the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River basins being conducted by the Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Water Resources.

New setback levees are wrong-headed for three major reasons: They would take more land off the tax rolls of counties that already are strapped; they would use up some of our most valuable farm acreage; and they would be devastating to adjoining landowners, who, in some cases, would lose their homes and farm buildings.

The tax revenues lost to the counties really are not made up by in-lieu payments. The federal government consistently underpays its obligation.

The value of crop production lost from conversion of ag land to setback levees and habitat is an annual loss, in perpetuity!

Imagine the forced condemnation of your home and farm buildings to benefit some species such as the Sacramento split tail!