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Lathrop: Flood concerns no joke
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Given California’s current water situation the thought of a flood seems almost laughable.

But a State of California mandate requiring that all levees protecting property within a proposed 200-year flood plain be upgraded is anything but a joke to Lathrop planners that have moved the issue to the top of their list.

And it could be affecting business.

A glimpse at a map of the area that would theoretically be affected in the event of a 200-year flood shows that not just the areas near the levee would be impacted. All of Lathrop – both sides of I-5 – technically falls within the mapped area, and that means that unless the State of California gives the city a “finding of adequate progress” for the long-term repair then all future development within that plain will be halted.

It already affected an attempt by the developer of what is now being referred to as the Central Lathrop Specific Plan who was unable to find any builders to step in and tackle the next phase of construction until a green light from the State of California is given.

An attempt is underway by California State Senator Cathleen Galgiani to fund at least the State of California’ portion of the project – $110 million of the $150 million price tag – to move things further along.

A study by the University of the Pacific Center for Business and Policy Research determined that completion of the reclamation project – which also affects, Manteca, Stockton and San Joaquin County – would have sizeable economic benefits.

Using a typical 65-35 split of the cost, the upgrade – which it has listed at $170 million – would provide a reduction in the anticipated flood damage of $24 million per year, protect critical evacuation and transportation routes through the area for approximately 160,000 vehicle trips per day, and possibly even create $11 billion in output and 67,000 job years over several decades while at the same time increasing the annual property sales tax by more than $200 million.

Tackling such a huge project, however, hasn’t been easy.

While the mapped 200-year flood area includes all of Weston Ranch and all four of its schools as well as the county facilities in French Camp, neither Stockton nor San Joaquin County has come running to the table to help shoulder the burden of the cost of the work that has already been done. Lathrop has contributed the lion’s share of the funding – supplemented by developers that have an economic interest in ensuring that growth continues over the next several years – while Manteca has also been on board for nearly the entire time. The lighter colored flood area in the Manteca sector extends all the way out to Costco and Big League Dreams as well as proposed sites in the area that could be used to lure in a massive waterpark and hotel. Manteca’s wastewater treatment plan is also mapped in the shallower area.