Yuba Goldfields levee project advances | TheUnion.com

Yuba Goldfields levee project advances

A proposed $41.3 million Yuba Goldfields levee project moved closer to reality last week with approval by a local flood control agency of an environmental impact report on the plan.

Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority directors last week unanimously approved the EIR for the project to create a new three-mile levee south of the Goldfields in Yuba County. It would be designed to prevent 200-year floods from traveling through the Goldfields and flanking an existing Reclamation District 784 protection system.

Paul Brunner, executive director of the agency, said construction is likely four or five years away.

But the action by the TRILIA board clears the way to begin negotiations with the state Department of Water Resources on an agreement for the work. Directors earlier this year approved a preliminary plan for the project, a requirement before a grant application could be submitted to the state.

The authority has spent hundreds of millions of dollars in recent decades upgrading levees in areas of south Yuba County prone to flooding. It now has its sights set on improving protection for the Goldfields, seen as being flood-prone because of erosion and topographical changes resulting from mining.

Brunner said the agency has conditional state approval to complete the Goldfields project and is expected to reach final agreement early next year.

“From there, we will have funding to begin design and acquisition of the property,” he said.

The new levee would be built from the existing Upper Yuba Levee Project to high ground near Beale Air Force Base. The state would pay for 89 percent through an Urban Flood Risk Reduction Program grant with a required local share of about $4.5 million.

Representatives of the United Auburn Indian Community tribe appeared during Tuesday’s public hearing on the EIR at the Yuba County Government Center in Marysville.

The tribe requested TRILIA perform additional survey work at the construction area prior to certification of the EIR to determine whether there are Native American archaeological sites.

Authority officials said TRILIA is not yet in possession of the property, and the existing owner has said he won’t grant access for such a survey. The EIR was revised to require a “pedestrian archaeological survey, a geo-archaeological analysis, additional Native American coordination and field review and other measures” once TRILIA owns the property.

In a separate project, the United Auburn tribe earlier this year delayed construction on the Feather River West Levee Project in Sutter County due to a dispute over cultural materials recovered during work. The tribe threatened to seek an injunction from the state Attorney General’s office to halt construction before the dispute was resolved.

Eric Vodden is a reporter with the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.

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