Reducing the flood risk across Sacramento region

This week is California Flood Preparedness Week, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District is making progress on several projects throughout the Sacramento region aimed at reducing the flood risk for one of the most at-risk regions in the nation.

The American River Common Features 2016 project is a $1.8 billion project that will upgrade nearly 45 miles of levee and widen the Sacramento Weir and Bypass.

In 2022, USACE and its partners—the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, California Department of Water Resources, and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA)—is wrapping up its fourth year of levee improvements along the Sacramento River East Levee, primarily in Sacramento’s Pocket and Little Pocket neighborhoods.

“This is a vital project for significantly reducing the flood risk for more than half a million people in the Sacramento region,” said USACE project manager Nikole May. “A levee failure in these communities would put homes under as much as 20 feet of water.”

The fifth and final year of this type of levee work is set to commence in spring 2023 and includes some challenging locations across 5 sites totaling nearly 2.8 miles of levee work.

“This contract includes five critical segments, two of which are located where historic events have been documented,” said May. “The first historic event was the 1904 Edwards Break when an approximately 100-foot-wide levee breach flooded Sacramento. The second is near the Pocket Canal Parkway where significant landside boils occurred in 1986 and 1997, putting Sacramento at an elevated risk of levee failure.”

In addition to the Pocket-area levee work, crews began this year to armor American River levees where an oxbow presents the potential for erosive river flows that could breach the levee into neighboring communities. The first site, between Sacramento State University and Glenn Hall Park, is a little more than a mile long and is wrapping up this winter. The second site, located directly across the river in the Campus Commons area, will upgrade approximately 1.5 miles of levee at two sites. Work here began in 2022 and is scheduled for completion in 2023.

Lastly, the first major upgrade in the Sacramento Weir’s 106-year history is scheduled to get underway in 2023 as USACE will begin a project to nearly double the size of the weir and bypass, which relieves the Sacramento River during high water events.

The American River Common Features 2016 project is scheduled for completion in 2027.

Photo: USACE