Congressman John Garamendi of Fairfield has introduced H.R. 6484, the Shielding Against Flood Emergencies, or SAFE, Levee Act to strengthen Delta levees and require a cost-benefit analysis of the Peripheral Tunnel Proposal.
According to the press release issued by the Congressman’s office, “For 60 years, the Bureau of Reclamation has used the levees to ship water south of the Delta without providing the necessary maintenance. This neglect has left the levees in disrepair and threatens public safety. The Peripheral Tunnel project, proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) framework, continues to ignore this problem. For that reason, H.R. 6484 would authorize the Bureau of Reclamation to provide financial assistance to strengthen the stability of the Delta levees that are necessary for water conveyance and to protect human life and property in the region.”
The announcement adds that “simple logic would indicate that before moving head towards construction of peripheral tunnels, we should first look at the big economic picture to determine which, if any, project makes financial sense.”
The bill requires Central Valley Project water service contractors south of the Delta that receive and benefit from water conveyed through the Delta to reimburse the federal government for costs associated with levee maintenance and improvement. Even under BDCP, the Bureau of Reclamation will be relying on Delta levees for water deliveries until after conveyance is built. If contractors are really concerned about levee failures due to earthquakes or flooding, this is maintenance they shouldn’t be deferring.
House Representatives Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton, CA), Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento, CA), George Miller (D-Martinez, CA), and Mike Thompson (D-St. Helena, CA) have joined as lead cosponsors of the legislation.