Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Report: California faces flood risk

Millions of people and billions of dollars in property are at risk for flooding in California, according to a joint report from the state Department of Water Resources and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued today.

From the DWR:
Reducing California’s future flood risk will require unprecedented cooperation and alignment among public agencies and a commitment to developing stable funding mechanisms, according to a draft report released today by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

California’s Flood Future: Recommendations for Managing California’s Flood Risk reports that $580 billion in assets are exposed to flood risk throughout the state, and 7 million Californians live in a floodplain. The report includes seven strategic recommendations intended to inform local, state, and federal decisions about flood management policies and financial investments.

“Even with a history of continuing investment and action by local, state and federal flood management agencies, many regions in California face significant exposure to flood risk,” said Department of Water Resources (DWR) program manager Terri Wegener. “With millions of people, valuable farmland and major infrastructure at risk, the impact from a major flood in California would be devastating here, and to the nation.”

Wegener noted that the country’s major flood events in the past few years demonstrate the wisdom of planning ahead.

“It is much smarter and more cost effective to reduce flood risk now than to spend billions of dollars trying to recover from a major flood,” she said.

California’s Flood Future contains a comprehensive look at flooding throughout the state, along with challenges and recommendations for improving flood management. With state snowpack levels currently at low levels, the report is an important reminder about California’s variable weather extremes and a caution to look at flood management from an integrated perspective.

“It's critical to have the kind of detailed understanding that California's Flood Future gives us of where the risks are greatest and how they're connected,” said Kim Carsell, the Corps' lead planner for the report. “This research provides us with a level of specificity that we've never had before. For example, it shows the impacts to major areas of concern like critical facilities and agriculture, as well as the specific impacts to local communities.”
For more on the report, including proposed solutions, click here.

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