Feather River West Levee Project

The Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency is repairing 44 miles of levees from Thermalito Afterbay south to the Sutter Bypass. The goal of the project is to reduce flood risk and eventually remove more than 34,000 properties from FEMA Special Flood Hazard Areas. Levee repairs are being completed in two separate projects (see below).

The repairs are needed because levees along the west bank of the Feather River suffer from potential underseepage and through-seepage. Similar problems caused major levee failures in Yuba City in 1955 and Yuba County in 1986 and 1997.

In general, the Feather River levees will be made stronger by building deep cutoff walls (also known as slurry walls) and seepage berms. These levee improvements block or slow the flow of water through and underneath the levees. Not all 44 miles of levees will need each of these improvements. More than 80 percent of the repairs will involve the construction of slurry walls, some as deep as 130 feet. In a few select areas, seepage berms were constructed on the land side of the levee.

The levee improvement program is expected to:

  • Increase public safety by providing 200-year flood protection to Biggs, Gridley, Live Oak, and most of Yuba City, and improve flood protection for the less populated areas south of Yuba City.
  • Save property owners tens of millions each year in mandatory flood insurance costs by delaying or preventing FEMA floodplain mapping.
  • Allow cities and counties the freedom to implement general plans, which will soon be severely restricted for any urban or urbanizing community without 200-year flood protection. This would not apply to rural communities (areas with fewer than 10,000 residents).
  • Maintain the rights of property owners to make substantial improvements to property without new state or federal land use restrictions.
  • Sustain and grow the local economy by creating construction jobs, protecting property values, and allowing for responsible residential, commercial and industrial development.

Levee repairs will be completed in two separate phases:

  • The Feather River West Levee Project I included work from Thermalito Afterbay to Star Bend, just south of Yuba City, and was completed at the end of 2017 (includes emergency repairs to 2.9 miles of levee adjacent to Yuba City).
  • Project II will include the area south of Star Bend to the confluence of the Feather River and the Sutter Bypass. Project II work includes the Laurel Avenue Repair Project, which was completed in 2017, and the USACE’s Sutter Basin Project (Cypress Avenue to Tudor Road) which will begin construction in May 2019.

Video of the Sutter Basin Project (Cypress Avenue to Tudor Road) - video credit: Forgen

Video Link: https://vimeo.com/438374844

Project Cost

The most recent cost estimate – $378 million – reflects the combined costs of the Feather River West Levee Project I, which is nearly completed, and Project II work. This estimate will continue to be refined as the projects move toward completion. To date, the State is expected to pay as much as 78 percent of the costs for Project I. Property assessment revenues (approved by property owners in June 2010) will be used to pay the remaining share. As of January 2019, the State has committed $226.8 million toward the design and construction of Project I. In addition, the State committed up to $4.2 million for emergency measures to address flooding in February 2017. SBFCA recently completed Laurel Avenue Repair Project at a cost of $11.15 million with the State funding $9.5 million of these costs. In addition, SBFCA has secured State and Federal Funding for the Sutter Basin Levee Improvement Project (Feather River West Levee between Cypress and Tudor). The Total Project is expected to cost $77 million with the Federal Government funding approximately $50 million and the State funding approximately $18.9 million. Assessment revenues will fund the remainder.

Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for the Feather River West Levee Project Released

On April 20, 2016, SBFCA released the Draft Supplemental Impact Report (Draft SEIR) for the Feather River West Levee Project for a 45-day public review period. The SEIR analyzed modifications to the original project. The public review period ended on June 3, 2016.

Five comment letters were received during the public comment period. The Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (Final SEIR) contains these comment letters, SBFCA’s responses to the comment letters, and the changes (shown in underline and strikeout) that have been made to the text since the Draft SEIR publication. Click here to view/download the report.

ULOP Substantial Evidence in the Record

In 2007, six bills related to flood protection were passed in the California Legislature and signed by the Governor. Senate Bill 5 (SB5), as amended, requires land use agencies within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley to make findings related to an urban level of flood protection for urban and urbanizing areas within a flood hazard zone. SB5 defined the “urban level of flood protection” as the level of flood protection necessary to withstand flooding that has a 1-in-200 chance of occurring in any given year (200-year) using criteria developed by the State of California Department of Water Resources(DWR). SB5 defined “urban or urbanizing areas” as developed areas that have or are projected to have populations of 10,000 persons or more within ten (10) years. In May 2012, DWR issued the Urban Levee Design Criteria (ULDC), which provides technical criteria for designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining a levee or floodwall for protection against a 200-year flood. In November 2013, DWR issued the Urban Level of Flood Protection (ULOP) Criteria, which are procedural criteria for developing findings related to flood protection based on substantial evidence in the record. The reports below conclude that the FRWLP meets ULDC criteria and constitutes substantial evidence in the record to support findings related to ULOP.

Document Title Format Size
Engineer's Report
  Engineer Response to IPE Comments Letter - FRWLP1 PDF 627kB
  Engineer Response to IPE Comments Letter - Star Bend PDF 87kB
  IPE ULOP Letter of Concurrence - Star Bend PDF 1MB
  IPE ULOP Letter of Concurrence – FRWLP1 PDF 344kB
  SBFCA ULOP Finding Report_EVD-1 - Engineer's Report PDF 30MB
  ULOP Star Bend Report_ PDF 7MB
Environmental Impact Report
  Feather River West Levee Project Final EIR.pdf PDF 60MB
  FRWLP Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Report PDF 43MB
  2nd Street Encroachments PDF 26MB
  Additional Explorations Phase C PDF 4MB
  Additional Explorations Phase D PDF 4MB
  Alt Cost Analysis PDF 24MB
  Appendix D Geotech Analysis for Pre-Design Formulation Report PDF 130MB
  Approach for Addressing Existing Levee Encroachments PDF 4MB
  Approach to Improve Geometry PDF 1MB
  Design Criteria & Technical Approach PDF 8MB
  Design WS Profiles PDF 22MB
  Design WS Profiles Addendum 1 PDF 16MB
  Design WS Profiles Addendum 2 PDF 4MB
  DMM Cutoff Wall Reach 13 PDF 17MB
  Encroachment & Penetration TM PDF 619kB
  Encroachment Tables DOCX 182kB
  End Around Effects Paper PDF 505kB
  Erosion Assessment PDF 111MB
  Evaluation of End Around Effects PDF 9MB
  Final GDR PDF 129MB
  Final GDRR PDF 232MB
  Flood Safety Plan PDF 258kB
  Frequently Loaded Levee Analysis PDF 2MB
  Levee Degrade PDF 2MB
  LS Slope Stability TM PDF 91kB
  Magnus Submittal 241 PDF 5MB
  Magnus Submittal 40 PDF 1MB
  Magnus Submittal 56 PDF 2MB
  Magnus Submittal 67 PDF 1MB
  Magnus Submittal 80 PDF 5MB
  O&M Manual Unit 144 PDF 66MB
  O&M Manual Unit 148 PDF 62MB
  O&M Manual Unit 152 PDF 22MB
  Paired Piezometer PDF 14MB
  Penetrations List DOCX 96kB
  Recommendations for Reach 13 PDF 10MB
  Relief Well Design for UPRR Relief PDF 11MB
  Review of Transition in Cuttoff Wall Depth Reach 13 PDF 2MB
  SBFCA 200yr Post-Feather River West Levee Project PDF 16MB
  Superelevation Cale PDF 63kB
  Sutter-Butte Main Canal Investigation PDF 6MB
  Update to Relief Well Design Reach 17 PDF 17MB
  UPRR Closure Structure O&M Overview PDF 34kB
  UPRR Closure Structure Plans PDF 7MB
  Wind Setup & Wave Run Up Analysis PDF 7MB
  Wind Setup & Wind Run Up Analysis PDF 7MB