WASHINGTON – Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., announced today that the Army Corps of Engineers will spend $700,000 for flood control planning on the Pajaro River. The funds will be used toward the completion of the feasibility study necessary to apply for federal construction funds to update the levees on the Pajaro River.
“Another major flood would devastate communities along the river’s banks,” said Rep. Farr. “An inadequate levee system has left the Pajaro River with the lowest levels of flood protections in all of California. These funds bring us closer to modernizing the Pajaro River flood control plan to provide security for our local communities and businesses.”
Over the past few decades, the Pajaro River has severely flooded a number of times. In 1995, flooding caused one death and over $95 million dollars of total economic loss, including $67 million in damage to agricultural fields and $28 million in non-agricultural damage. Floods in 1997 and 1998 caused additional damage and displaced hundreds of residents. The Army Corps of Engineers estimates there is an 82 percent chance of recurring floods within the next 10 years.
Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend was pleased that the federal government is joining local sponsors in a financial commitment to this important project.
“The City of Watsonville and Town of Pajaro, as well as some of the most productive agricultural land in the world, deserve a level of flood protection that the Corps of Engineers originally envisioned for this project back in 1949,” said Friend, who is also Chair of the Santa Cruz County Zone 7 Flood Control and Water Conservation District. “Our community is grateful for the leadership of Congressman Farr, who has worked tirelessly to secure federal funding to bring this important project to the construction stage and protect some of the most vulnerable residents of our region.”
Since 1993 over $10 million in Corps funding has been appropriated for the project, but the feasibility study has not been completed. In recent years, non-federal sponsors have provided over $2 million in local funds toward to keep the project moving forward.
Santa Cruz County Administrative Officer Susan Mauriello also praised Rep. Farr’s leadership on the project. “Sam Farr has always been a determined advocate for those most in need in the region, and we are deeply appreciative that he has never given up on his goal to provide flood protection to these vital areas along the Pajaro River.”
The study is expected to be completed by 2016 allowing the project to apply for construction funds in 2017.
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