It’s been over almost 18 months since California Senator Cathleen Galgiani announced that she was proposing legislation that would fund part of the flood control needs for San Joaquin County.
But as cities like Lathrop and Manteca have scrambled to put together plans that will allow them to continue developing property within the newly redrawn 200-year flood plain – which in Lathrop’s case, includes the entire city limits – an agreement for inserting the $110 million line-item into the state budget still hasn’t been reached in Sacramento.
According to Galgiani’s Capital office, the senator is working on getting the funding inserted into the upcoming budget at least in part. She will be working with other legislators in the capital to make sure that development in one of the fastest growing and most agriculturally productive regions in the State of California doesn’t come grinding to a halt.
According to legislation that was initiated by one of Galgiani’s predecessors – Democrat Mike Machado – all of the levees that protect crucial farmland the heart of the state need to be overhauled in order to protect against a 200-year flood. Machado, a champion of water rights and an expert on the water matters as a legislator, termed out in 2008 but left Senate Bill 5 – a comprehensive flood management program for cities that could be affected by the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta – as a lasting legacy to ensure that the disaster of 1997 couldn’t ever happen again.
And it’s been a hurdle for local lawmakers to grapple with ever since.
Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal said that it is the biggest issue looming over the city for the foreseeable future now that the funding to overhaul the miles of levees in Reclamation District 17 is up in the air. Because of Lathrop’s predicament – engineering work commissioned to receive a finding of compliance from the State of California that will allow development to continue determined that the entire city is within the 200-year flood plain – the city has been at the forefront of an effort to organize communities affected and make a united push in Sacramento to secure state and possibly even appeal for federal funding in order to meet the new mandate.
Dhaliwal said that the city is pursuing a pitch that worked for the Natomas region of the City of Sacramento when they were facing similar issues with their development and their proximity to the Sacramento River. According to Dhaliwal, Natomas negotiated a 65/35 funding split and was able to facilitate the work necessary.
But in this case, Lathrop isn’t the only community that’s affected the miles of aging levees that have been reinforced since they last ruptured almost two decades ago, but still aren’t rated to hold the amount of water that the legislation requires.
Manteca, which has development interests to the south of the 120 Bypass, is also affected by the levees of Reclamation District 17, as is the City of Stockton with Weston Ranch and communities further north and the County of San Joaquin with agricultural land between each of the municipalities.
Dhaliwal said that efforts have been made to bring both the county and the City of Stockton to the negotiating table since the City of Lathrop and a handful of development interests with large projects that would be directly affected have funded the lion’s share of the engineering work necessary to get the state’s blessing to continue. The City of Manteca has also taken on a more active role.
While the finding of adequate progress was granted – which will allow large home developments like the Central Lathrop Specific Plan and its nearly 6,000 homes to continue – it will need to be applied for every year until the levee work, which could cost more than $150 million to complete, is executed.
Galigani’s office said that the senator will revisit the issue when the session convenes after the New Year.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.