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Cities seek seat on SJ County flood board

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POSTED February 5, 2018 1:36 a.m.

Currently the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency is managed by the City of Stockton, the County of San Joaquin and the San Joaquin County Flood Control and Water Management District. 

And the cities of Manteca and Lathrop are now asking for a seat at the table. 

Almost a year after the region faced its worst potential flooding in a decade – surviving a levee breach in South Manteca that was patched by quick-thinking and resourceful farmers that used their own heavy equipment to cave the levee in over the break – the two cities that are banking on flood protection to keep their economic engine going want to be a part of the ongoing discussions about how to keep the areas adjacent to the San Joaquin River safe and dry even in the wettest years. 

While their interests may be slightly different – Lathrop is looking to focus its growth in the areas west of I-5 and east of the RD-17 levee that protects it while Manteca is focusing its growth in the wide expanses south of the Highway 120 Bypass – both municipalities have been working together to meet the State of California’s mandate that all new development areas threatened by a 200-year flood receive the necessary protection.

Together the two cities, backed by developers that agreed to foot the bill for the majority of the work, spent millions to do the necessary engineering work to secure a finding of adequate progress from the State that will allow current development progress to continue while long-term funding for the massive levee upgrade – a fix-in-place approach believed to cost as much as $176 million – is found.

Last week the Lathrop City Council approved revisions to the SJAFCA joint exercise of powers agreement that will include the City of Lathrop as part of the coordinated effort to reach a “conceptual agreement for broad collaboration amongst land use agencies and RD 17 regarding the planning and design work and implementation of (the) 200-year flood protection project in the RD 17 basin.” The approval is contingent on the approval of the Manteca City Council, who will join Lathrop in negotiating and discussing on behalf of the South County, and the existing agencies that make up of the flood control agency. 

According to the staff report prepared for the council, although Lathrop’s staff have taken the lead role in the RD 17 overhaul project – the city is the agency most directly affected, being adjacent to the levee, and has the largest percentage of its development within the most concentrated area of the 200-year flood plain – the move to join with the other agencies will “provide for a much stronger and more unified regional voice in advocating for state and federal funding as opposed to a separate new JEPA within the same region.”

The board, once it is reformed, will determine which agency will carry the seed money necessary to carry the RD 17 project through the end of the fiscal year, and Lathrop and Manteca’s respective contributions – if they aren’t included at the outset – will be based on their respective budgets. 

 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544. 

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