Earth movers are preparing the first mile of levee at Shanghai Bend in Yuba City.
The levee failed in 1955. Thirty-eight people died in the flood. Mike Inamine with the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency says the history of failure at Shanghai Bend provided an obvious starting point for construction. A three-foot-wide wall of clay and dirt will be built in the middle of the levee for the first phase of the project.
“In order to make this slurry wall effective," Inamine says, "we have to reach down to great depths –on the order of 100 feet.”
The Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency says the first phase will provide 200-year flood protection to 95-thousand people living from Yuba City to the town of Live Oak.
“The southern half of Sutter County has been remapped into a special flood hazard area," says the agency's James Gallagher. "The rest of Sutter County –Yuba City included- is poised to be and if we don’t do this project, that’s what would happen.”
People in the Sutter Butte Basin voted to tax themselves to help pay for the project. The State of California is expected to pay about three-quarters of the cost of the first phase.
Under a unique agreement, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is allowing a state and local improvement project to go forward while the Corps reviews an additional 40 miles of proposed work. That review could be complete by the end of the month.An additional three miles of work is planned, but has not gone through the approval process.