Bill Text

Bill Information


PDF |Add To My Favorites |Track Bill | print page

SB-496 Flood control: water development projects: Pajaro River.(2021-2022)

SHARE THIS:share this bill in Facebookshare this bill in Twitter
Date Published: 09/07/2021 09:00 PM
SB496:v96#DOCUMENT

Enrolled  September 07, 2021
Passed  IN  Senate  September 02, 2021
Passed  IN  Assembly  September 01, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  July 08, 2021
Amended  IN  Senate  March 05, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Bill
No. 496


Introduced by Senator Laird
(Coauthors: Assembly Members Robert Rivas and Stone)

February 17, 2021


An act to amend Section 12687.5 of the Water Code, relating to water.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 496, Laird. Flood control: water development projects: Pajaro River.
Existing law provides for state cooperation with the federal government in the construction of specified flood control projects. For certain flood control projects authorized on or after January 1, 2002, or for which specified findings have been made on or after that date, existing law requires the state to pay 50% of specified nonfederal costs. Existing law authorizes the state to pay up to 70% of those nonfederal costs upon the recommendation of the Department of Water Resources or the Central Valley Flood Protection Board if either entity determines that the project will advance one of several objectives.
Existing law authorizes the state to provide the above-described funds to the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz, or to local agencies in those counties, for the project for flood control on the Pajaro River in the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz, as specified.
This bill would authorize, upon certain conditions, the state to provide up to 100% of the costs to the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz, or to local agencies in those counties, for the project for flood control on the Pajaro River in the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz.
This bill would make legislative findings and declarations as to the necessity of a special statute for the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The Pajaro River Federal Flood Control Project was built in 1949 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and is maintained jointly by the Santa Cruz County Flood Control and Water Conservation District – Zone 7 and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency.
(b) Since construction of the levee system in 1949, there have been four major floods on the Pajaro River and its tributaries in 1955, 1958, 1995, and 1998 that have resulted in significant inundation and damage caused by overtopping or breaching of the levees. A 1963 report by the Corps concluded that the levee system was “inadequate,” and Congress authorized reconstruction of the Pajaro River levee system in 1966 through the Flood Control Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-789). Reauthorization was granted by the Water Resources Development Act of 1990.
(c) Section 12687.5 of the Water Code authorized the state to provide subvention funds to the Pajaro River project in 2006, in accordance with Section 12585.7 of the Water Code. Section 12687.5 was amended with the passage of Assembly Bill 489 in September of 2019. Specifically, the amendment allows the state to provide subvention funds in accordance with Section 12585.7 to be used for planning, engineering, designing, and constructing the project in the absence of federal funding in an amount that would be the equivalent state share if there was federal project funding.
(d) Levels of flood protection along the Pajaro River system are among the lowest of any federal flood control project in California. Recent Corps analysis shows the levees provides only five-year protection along the Pajaro River and seven-year protection along two Pajaro tributaries. Poor levee strength further reduces this expected performance.
(e) Existing state transportation facilities that cross tributary channels, specifically the State Highway 129 and 152 bridges at Salsipuedes Creek, within the Pajaro River project envelope can only safely convey 10-year to 25-year floods.
(f) Floods in 1995 caused more than $95,000,000 in damage and the loss of life of two people, with additional damage in 1997 and 1998 as well as the displacement of hundreds of residents. Levees nearly broke again in the federally declared storm disasters of January and February of 2017.
(g) The Pajaro River forms the boundary between the Counties of Santa Cruz and Monterey, coursing through the agricultural lowlands of the lower Pajaro Valley and straddled by an urban area in each county, the City of Watsonville in the County of Santa Cruz and the Town of Pajaro in the County of Monterey. The City of Watsonville is a state-designated disadvantaged community, while the Town of Pajaro is a state-designated severely disadvantaged community. The Pajaro River project will provide 100-year flood protection for both communities. For these areas, the per-capita income is less than one-half of the state and national averages.
(h) The Pajaro River project also impacts some of the most productive farmland in the world; agriculture is a $750,000,000 to $1,000,000,000 per year industry in the Pajaro Valley. The Watsonville-Salinas agricultural region produces twice as many strawberries as any other area in California, and California produces nearly 80 percent of the nation’s strawberries. Strawberries are California’s fourth highest-grossing agricultural commodity, producing $3,100,000,000 in annual revenue.

SEC. 2.

 Section 12687.5 of the Water Code is amended to read:

12687.5.
 (a) Notwithstanding Section 12585.7, the state may provide subvention of funds, up to 100 percent of the costs, for the project for flood control on the Pajaro River in the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz, authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-789), that is substantially in accordance with the recommendations of the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in House Document 491, 89th Congress, to the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz, or to local agencies in those counties, as follows:
(1) At an estimated cost to the state of the sum that may be appropriated for state cooperation by the Legislature upon the recommendations and advice of the department.
(2) Upon a specific written determination by the department that the project meets the requirements of Section 12582.7.
(b) The state assumes no liability for damages that may result from the project by either of the following:
(1) Authorizing the provision of subvention funds in accordance with this section.
(2) The appropriation by the Legislature of these subvention funds upon the recommendations and advice of the department.
(c) A county or local agency may receive the subvention funds only if it enters into an agreement with the department pursuant to which the county or local agency agrees to indemnify and hold and save harmless the state, its officers, agents, and employees for any and all liability for damages that may result from the project.
(d) For the purposes of this section, “liability for damages” includes, but is not limited to, liability for damages relating to the construction or operation of the project or the failure of the project to operate as intended.
(e) State funding, available upon appropriation by the Legislature, may be used for planning, engineering, designing, and constructing the project within authorized project boundaries as set forth in the recommendations of the Chief of Engineers of the United States Army Corps of Engineers in House Document 491, 89th Congress, as authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-789). In the absence of federal funding, the state, through the Flood Control Subventions Program, may fund the planning, engineering, design, and construction of the authorized project, as specified in the Army Corps of Engineers report entitled Pajaro River Flood Risk Management General Reevaluation Report & Integrated Environmental Assessment, in which case the funding shall not exceed the amount that would be the equivalent state share if there was federal project funding.
(f) Before any funds appropriated by the Legislature are provided to the flood control project, the Director of Water Resources shall find both of the following:
(1) The project qualifies for greater than a 100 percent state cost share based upon the gross calculation of the cumulative benefits the project provides as described in a nonfederal cost share report submitted to the department for the project.
(2) The project spans more than one county, contains significant state assets, and widespread economic hardship exists throughout the benefit area of the project, as demonstrated in a nonfederal cost share report submitted to the department for the project, and the project would aid in the restoration of a groundwater aquifer.

SEC. 3.

 The Legislature finds and declares that a special statute is necessary and that a general statute cannot be made applicable within the meaning of Section 16 of Article IV of the California Constitution because of the unique need to improve flood control on the Pajaro River located in the Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz as described in Section 1 of this act.