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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on April 17th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 6 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 6

Final phase of levee repairs to finish in 2013

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

By next winter, Santa Maria residents won’t have to worry about being flood victims anymore—at least not because of the Santa Maria River.

The fourth and final section of the Bradley Canyon Levee is scheduled for repair construction to begin in May and finish before the end of the year, said Tawny Tran, the Santa Maria River levee project manager from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps awarded a $6.74 million contract to San Luis Obispo-based John Madonna Construction on March 28.

The contract was awarded to complete the last 3,700 feet of the more than six-mile long levee rehabilitation project, and will move east from the Santa Maria Landfill, where the last phase of the project was completed. The first three phases of the project were awarded $40 million in federal funding through the Army Corps and didn’t require a local match.

This fourth phase of the project is expected to cost an estimated $10 million, and Santa Maria and Santa Barbara County will match the Army Corps portion by chipping in approximately $1.9 million each, said Steve Kahn, a city of Santa Maria utilities engineer.

Kahn said the reason for beginning the project in the first place was because a series of hydraulic studies found that the levee was built inadequately and a large surge of floodwater could damage it. Although the river hasn’t flowed in the last couple of years, Kahn said in some years he’s seen it flow bank-to-bank; all you need is a heavy year of rain.

Without levee repairs, some citizens would have been considered on the flood plain, which means paying big bucks for flood insurance protection.

“If your levee is insufficient, then [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] acts like the levee isn’t there,” Kahn said.