Stockton’s Bill Maxwell reacts to news that the public vote on a gate at the mouth of Smith Canal has been delayed:
This is a plea to the “officials” who have delayed their vote on a flood gate for Smith Canal. Please, don’t buy into this boondoggle solely to appease FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Yes, I know this now $30 million and growing contraption will spare thousands of residents from being forced by the government to purchase flood insurance. But at the same time, if will force thousands of property owners to pay $100 to $300 annually for 30 years into an assessment to cover the cost of the project. There’s got to be a better way.
To my knowledge, in the over 120 years since Smith Canal was dug, connecting it with the North Street Channel, now the central Stockton storm-drain system, it has never topped or breached its levees. The levee behind my house is 11 feet above mean tide, and about 40 feet wide. I have flood insurance, at $350 a year, more in fear of an earthquake-induced inland tsunami than in fear of the once-mighty San Joaquin River spilling over its banks.
I imagine another reason for controlling the flow of water into Smith Canal is to keep it from backing up into the storm drains that feed into it from all over central Stockton. What a mess that would be if all the folks in the Tuxedo and Boers parks areas came out to find all the gunk that washes down the storm drains suddenly gushing back out onto their streets and into their yards. Maybe there are back-flow prevention valves at each of the out-falls into the canal, but I doubt it.
If you want to spend $30 million on Smith Canal, why not dredge it and remove a century’s worth of toxic sludge and increase the canal’s capacity at the same time? If you want to install sheet piling, put it down here on the east end where there’s over 60 years of undercutting and sloughing caused by the inability to access the levees ever since the Pershing Street bridge was built in 1950.
I’m one of the lucky ones who can afford the $350 for flood insurance. However, I refuse to pay more than that. I doubt I’ll ever need it, but given the convoluted insurance scam FEMA has devised, I’ve deluded myself into thinking that flood insurance adds equity to my home.
So please, “officials”, don’t saddle us with this $30 million white elephant.
Next stop: tornado insurance for everyone living in Tornado Alley.