Building-limit end is next step
With flow charts in hand and visions of early success in their heads, Yuba County flood control project representatives will be in Sacramento on Friday to ask the state Reclamation Board to lift a building permit limit.
Currently, construction of only 700 homes can be permitted in the Plumas Lake area through the end of 2006. Through mid-March, 205 permits had been issued, according to the county.
Lifting the limit would allow the Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority to get a jump on funding the final phase of an extensive project reinforcing levees that protect thousands of county residents.
Reclamation Board members have said they are concerned about putting more people behind those levees, especially since the project is not yet complete.
Last year, the board approved a permit for the Plumas Lake levee work that limited building permits to 800 in 2005 and 700 this year, while the levees were being repaired.
Three Rivers can't afford to complete the project without selling bonds, and bond values will come from new homes, said Project Manager Ric Reinhardt.
By November, the authority will have spent $111 million on the project. It needs another $135 million to finish.
Authority Executive Director Kent McClain said Three Rivers also is vying for federal and state money. He said the project's rapid advance should help it win attention and support.
“I think we can go to agencies and say if you want results now, we can deliver now,” McClain said.
Still, government assistance is not a given. With Reclamation Board approval, the authority can maintain its funding momentum, McClain said.
“In our equation, there can't be any unknowns,” he added.
About 40 percent of the county's population lives behind those levees. Improvements will help provide security to old and new communities, including 25,000 people in Linda and Olivehurst.
Authority officials say lifting the limit will help them finish the project in 2008, a year ahead of schedule.
When complete, the project will provide 200-year flood protection to nearly half of Yuba County residents.
Yuba County would have the highest flood protection in the valley flood plain, Reinhardt said.
“We're defining the urban standard and we're doing it quickly,” he said.
Early completion would coincide with a Federal Emergency Management Agency remapping project, McClain said.
FEMA is amending its 100-year flood protection map. If the authority finishes the project before the original 2009 deadline, the authority would not have to return to FEMA to ask for a revision after the map is complete.
The fourth and final phase addresses the two weakest links in the Three Rivers project: the Feather River levee and a ditch on the Yuba River levee near the goldfields, Reinhardt said.
Phase four also involves constructing a slurry wall in the Yuba River levee between the Union Pacific Railroad and Simpson Lane.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Eve Hightower can be reached at 749-4724. You may e-mail her at email@example.com.