Sutter entities ask Corps to speed levee project reviews
A long list of Sutter County agencies, businesses and independent groups have sent the US Army Corps of Engineers a letter with a message on giving the go-ahead for flood prevention work: Make it snappy.
The Oct. 24 letter, stemming from a citizens advisory committee to the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency, asks for expedited review by the Corps of Engineers so such work can begin as planned next year.
"This critical public safety project will repair levees that have previously failed and are known to be structurally deficient, and that currently provide protection to more than 80,000 residents," states the letter, whose principal author is committee chair John Munger. Click here to read the letter.
"Given scarce local and state resources, it is imperative the project stay within budget by staying on schedule," the letter states.
Among those signing it are representatives of the Sutter County Superintendent of Schools, Yuba Sutter Chamber of Commerce, Yuba Community College District, Sunsweet Growers Inc. and the Sutter County Taxpayers Association.
Design work began this year for the projects the Sutter Butte flood agency plans to undertake in mid-2013, for upgrading levees along the Feather River in both Butte and Sutter counties, as well as the Sutter Bypass.
Agency Executive Director Mike Inamine said getting the reviews and authorization to proceed from the Corps is a tricky step because it's the only one out of the local agency's hands.
"These applications are processed differently from project to project," said Inamine, adding he'd seen and concurred with the letter's sentiments. "There are lots of people in the Corps who need to review this."
Under the original timeline the agency laid out last year for levee upgrades, officials planned to start actual work in 18 months.
But Inamine said earlier this year, he got notice it might take longer for the Corps' OK.
In order to begin work in mid-summer, the flood control agency needs to award a construction contract by late spring or early summer, he said, a step it can't take until the Corps' review is complete.
"This is the most critical permit in terms of time," he said.
Bradd Schwichtenberg, who leads the Corps' South Pacific Division Regional Integration Team, said in an email the agency has received the letter and understood its message.
"The Corps is preparing a letter in response addressing those concerns and will forward it to the committee when completed," he wrote in a statement sent by email.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.