Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority is in the middle of a $7.2 million construction project to bring the Western Pacific Interceptor Canal levee to the 200-year flood protection level.

Earth work began in July on about three miles of levee south of Olivehurst and east of Highway 70. Construction on that part of the project will wrap up by the end of October.

TRLIA is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to get authorization for the second phase of the project, which will build cutoff walls to prevent underseepage, TRLIA Executive Director Paul Brunner said. The second phase is expected to begin in May and finish in late 2017.

The state is covering 70 percent of the cost, or about $5.6 million, and the rest of the project is paid using local funds, Brunner said. Nordic Industries Inc. of Olivehurst is the contractor for both phases of the project.

When the Western Pacific Interceptor Canal Project is complete, TRLIA will have achieved 200-year flood protection along the Yuba, Feather and Bear rivers, he said.

Yuba County Supervisor Mary Jane Griego is the chair of the TRLIA board of directors and said the project is the product of more than a decade of work to bring the levees in the area up to highest standard.

"We'll probably be the first community certified at that level in the state," Griego said. "We won't be the weak link in the system any longer."

TRLIA is working on a separate project in the Yuba Goldfields that would create 200-year flood protection level levees for nearly three miles east to Beale Air Force Base.

The project is not in the state flood plan, but Brunner said the state, Corps of Engineers and TRLIA identified the need for the work. The project is in the early stages but could be completed within five years, he said.

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