Critical Repairs Made To Delta Levees
Oct. 20 (KGO) -- Governor Schwarzenegger got an up close look at repairs to levees in the central valley today. He toured one of thirteen San Joaquin river levees that have been fixed so far. But there's more trouble in the delta.
With a new storm season around the corner the state is on track to fix, by next month, 33 crumbling levees deemed critical under the governor's emergency repair order. Today Governor Schwarzenegger toured the progress in Colusa County.
Governor Schwarzenegger: "We don't want to go down the line the way New Orleans went. They debated for years and years on who was responsible for the funding, who was responsible for the building of the levees, and all of a sudden a big storm hit them and wiped out the whole city."
Had the federal government also not hurried the permits for the repair work, it would have taken two or three years to complete.
While the critical sites were being fixed, there was some discouraging news: 71 more vulnerable sites were discovered.
The development didn't surprise the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is handling most of the repairs.
Col. Ron Light: "This kind of work has been needed on the system for years and years and years. We're, quite frankly playing catch up."
The state will front $500 million dollars for the rest of the work, while it seeks to get federal reimbursement on all the levee projects. With this winter predicted to be an El Niño year, it's unusual for the state to continue repairs lasting well into the rainy season. But the risk to homes, agriculture fields and drinking water is tremendous if a levee breaks.
Nancy Saracino, CA Dept. of Water Resources: "In terms of the cost to businesses and the taxpayer to clean up we would have a Katrina on our hands."
Kevin Kemp lives by a levee and is worried about the 71 new sites needing several more months to be fixed.
Kevin Kemp, new homeowner: "After we moved in, this last storm season had us kind of concerned a little bit."
Voters will decide on Election Day the fate of Proposition 1E. That's $4 billion dollars for repairing the rest of the long-neglected levee system not covered under the emergency repair order.
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