Aug. 02--The Ventura County Watershed Protection District is starting to free more than 1,000 Fillmore residents from potentially having to buy flood insurance.
The agency recently entered into a $155,000 contract with the Los Angeles District of the Army Corps of Engineers on a project that will correct deficiencies in the Sespe Creek levee and bring it to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards.
The project, which is expected to start in fall 2013 and end by January or February of 2014, will cost about $5.6 million, about half of which will come from state grants.
Ventura County recently received $9.5 million in state grants to finish local projects. About $3 million will go toward the Sespe Creek work.
The watershed protection district has submitted an initial report to the Army engineers on which parts of the levee need to be modified, project manager Kirk Norman said.
Project specifications will be discussed during the next year until construction can move forward, Norman said.
"We're at the concept level," Norman said. "Basically, we're just going to raise the levee."
About 1,000 feet of the levee will be raised to about 6 feet north of the railroad and Old Telegraph Road to south of Highway 126 to meet federal guidelines. The guidelines were established for areas at risk of a 100-year flood, or an area that has a 1 percent chance of major flooding in a given year.
The actions come after FEMA studies found the levee was deficient and that about 1,500 homeowners would have to buy flood insurance.
"The FEMA analysis is what got us involved with the project," Norman said.
Norman said there were many reasons the levee did not meet federal guidelines and why the improvements had to be made.
The Sespe has flooded several times in recent decades. The Army engineers and watershed protection district in 1977 began building a 2-mile rock levee along the east bank of Sespe Creek from Highway 126 to Goodenough Road. The project was completed in 1984.
However, the levee was built to protect against a "standard" flood, in which water flows at an average rate of 121,000 cubic feet per second. Due to "significant rainfall storm events," the flow rate has increased to about 135,800 cubic feet per second, according to the district.
Because of the levee's deficiencies, more homes and businesses were included in a new FEMA flood map. The latest project is expected to correct those deficiencies before new maps are released in 2014.
(c)2012 Ventura County Star (Camarillo, Calif.)
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