Recent rainstorms cause portion of Feather River levee to erode |

Recent rainstorms cause portion of Feather River levee to erode

Surface erosion resulting from recent rains has caused some concern over the integrity of the Feather River levee protecting Marysville. Experts said the erosion doesn’t pose a threat to public safety.
Photo by Jake Abbott

Rains over the past several weeks have caused erosion to a recently improved portion of levee along the east side of the Feather River and protecting Marysville.

But officials say the damage is superficial and doesn’t pose a threat to public safety.

The site of the erosion is on the water side of the levee in between the bridges on 10th and Fifth streets. For most people, the erosion looks like cracks, but experts say that term implies a more serious condition.

“The amount of rain we’ve received this season has sort of overwhelmed the capacity to hold the surface intact. Those are surface erosions that don’t go very deep,” said John Nicoletti, a member of the Marysville Levee Commission.

The area where the erosion occurred was improved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last year as part of the Marysville Ring Levee project. That phase of the project was completed over the span of about six months and saw crews place about 1,000 feet of slurry wall, as well as other measures to help prevent through- and under-seepage during high-water times.

Katie Charan, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said the erosion, which began last December, was caused by the topsoil being washed by heavy rain before the grass could take hold.

Both officials said the integrity of the levee hasn’t been compromised from the erosion, even if water elevations in the Feather River end up rising this winter.

“The levee is still remarkably fortified and meets the 200-year level of flood protection,” Nicoletti said.

Crews plan on addressing the surface erosion, but cannot do so until the ground has firmed up and dried out. Charan said contractors will likely be able to get into the area in March or April.

“The contractor plans on removing the waddles and filling in the voids, regrading and seeding the disturbed areas,” Charan said.

To date, construction crews have completed approximately 6,100 feet of improvements — or three of seven phases — part of the Marysville Ring Levee project, totaling roughly $27.4 million in improvements.

The remaining phases will likely be carried out through 2023, with the next phase focusing on the roughly 2,900 feet of levee that runs directly south from the Fifth Street Bridge. That phase is slated to begin this spring.

Jake Abbott writes for the Marysville Appeal Democrat. He can be reached at

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