An amphibious excavator is positioned near the confluence of the Yuba River and Feather River ahead of a dredging project being overseen by the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency. 

Work began Friday to remove nearly 66,000 cubic yards of sediment situated at the confluence of the Yuba and Feather rivers and Yuba City boat ramp.

The project, which covers an area of approximately 14 acres, is being overseen by the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency and carried out by Dixon Marine Services, Inc. Permits were issued for the project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday, and work must be completed by mid-October.

Michael Bessette, executive director for SBFCA, said the project is fully funded through a $5 million grant received from the California Natural Resources Agency to remove sediment for safety purposes, to restore recreation access, and to restore fish passage at the confluence.

“There is sediment that comes down the river naturally but (the 2017 Oroville spillway disaster) was the linchpin for launching this project,” Bessette said.

Sediment buildup along the river has created dangerous conditions for recreational users, made some boat launch facilities nearly unusable, and impacted public safety by hampering the ability for officials to launch emergency vessels.

Plans for the work include maintenance dredging at the Yuba City boat ramp area along Second Street, as well as at the confluence of the two rivers. The dredged material will be conveyed to adjacent decommissioned wastewater treatment ponds in Marysville to dewater before it is disposed of.

Bessette said the waterways will not be closed during work, though buoys will be in place to protect the dredging operation.

“The boat ramp itself will be closed at some point, but we are still working to figure out those days because they will have to remove the dock and dredge underneath,” he said. “So, there will be 4-5 days when the boat ramp will be closed. Once those dates are set, we will get the information out.”

Similar work is also underway at the Live Oak boat ramp, where crews began a sediment removal project on July 19.

SBFCA also has plans in place for a second phase of work further downstream, which would see dredging of an additional approximately 250,000 cubic yards of material within another 14-acre area to further restore fish passage and improve flow conveyance at the confluence, though funding has yet to be obtained for the project.

“We will continue to look for opportunities,” Bessette said. “The next grant opportunity we know of is next year. If we are successful with that, then we would be able to start work next year.”

At this time, crews in charge of phase one plan to work six days per week, 12 hours per day. Bessette said that could be increased to seven days per week depending on how close they are to meeting their deadline — work must be completed Oct. 15.

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