In April, the engineers who maintain Delta levees wrote a letter to the state Department of Water Resources, expressing concern that the state’s official position is to upgrade the levees to meet only a relatively weak level known as Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP).
Last week the state responded.
The new letter from DWR Director Mark Cowin basically says the goal of meeting the weaker standard is based on “economics” and the need to make sure Delta islands are at least eligible for post-flood federal assistance.
However, the state says reclamation districts continue to be free to pursue whatever level of protection they desire. They’ll simply have to justify the cost and benefit of using public funds for that purpose.
(And yet the state will conduct no cost-benefit analysis on a $13 billion peripheral tunnel…. UOP’s Jeff Michael had a little fun with that one.)
The DWR letter goes on to say that the state agrees some areas in the Delta need a higher level of protection, based upon the infrastructure they contain. ”DWR staff is committed to working with interested Delta (reclamation districts) to determine an appropriate level of flood protection, based on clear and identifiable state interests and, where a higher level of flood protection is justified, staff will establish conditions which will allow these islands to qualify for matching funds.”
Now, here’s the translation of all this from Restore the Delta’s Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who brought up the issue at Wednesday’s Delta Coalition meeting in Stockton.
“How can you build all this propaganda for all these years that the Delta is going to crumble, but then decide, ‘Well, we’re going to put in a lower levee standard.’ It’s as if they want to set the Delta up for failure,” she said.