By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop takes look at levee efforts for 200-year protection
Placeholder Image

Last year the City of Lathrop received the necessary “finding of adequate progress” that will allow them to continue to develop within the 200-year flood plain as long as they follow the plan that will lead to a massive levee overhaul to protect the city’s new housing. 

And now they’re making a push for an annual renewal that will allow the wheels of growth to continue in community that is helping make South San Joaquin County one of the fastest-growing regions in the State of California. 

Tonight the Lathrop City Council, acting as the Local Flood Management Authority, will vote on a resolution that would accept the 2017 Adequate Progress Update and, acting as the Land Use Agency, formally validate the finding of adequate progress that allows them to continue to develop as long as efforts are being made to achieve SB5 compliance. 

While the incremental progress update is far from the massive levee overhaul that will achieve total compliance – a project that could end up costing in excess of $150 million when everything is accounted for – it is a positive step that shows the State of California and the related water agencies that issue the necessary permits that Lathrop is moving forward to ensure that the entire city will be protected from a 200-year flood. 

The timing couldn’t be better. 

While the majority of the work required to receive the initial finding last June was completed during the drought when the thought of a massive flood wreaking havoc on the Central Valley was almost incomprehensible, one single winter was able to create panic for landowners along the San Joaquin River who faced swollen banks that encroached on levees for the first time in nearly a decade. 

Despite the threat, Lathrop fared better than other local levee districts thanks to the 100-year certification of the levees of Reclamation District 17, which will only be bolstered by seepage berms that the district has constructed that will add an additional layer of protection when and if the San Joaquin River swells again. 

While the only levee breach in the South County came in South Manteca and was repaired almost immediately, seepage issues along the banks were commonplace throughout as monitoring stations at places like Vernalis registered river levels far beyond flood stage. 

In addition to levee upgrades that are being made in the area, one of the requirements for the annual extension of the initial finding, Lathrop has also appropriated 117 percent of the funding scheduled to be received for necessary work, in excess of the 90 percent requirement. 

And while the city has been on the hook for some of the initial technical reports required to earn government approval – a burden also being shouldered by the City of Manteca and the development community – the money being spent would likely be reimbursed by properties that will directly benefit from the urban level of flood protection, which essentially amounts to any development property within Lathrop’s city limits. 

Portions of Stockton and unincorporated San Joaquin County will also benefit from the project, and attempts at bringing those entities together to achieve the necessary goal are ongoing.

Through a memorandum of understanding, the City of Manteca and RD-17 are working together as the Local Flood Management Authority on matters pertaining to the project. 

The coordinated efforts are seeking to achieve the necessary certification for continued urban development by 2025, and funding mechanisms to pay for the work are being sought.  


To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.