Water & Drought

Crews repair new water seepage spot on Feather River levee near Sacramento River

Workers from Teichert Construction shore up the levee on the Sacramento River where boils were discovered on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 in Verona, Calif.
Workers from Teichert Construction shore up the levee on the Sacramento River where boils were discovered on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 in Verona, Calif. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Construction started Thursday afternoon on a second levee-stabilization project near the confluence of the Feather and Sacramento rivers, an area seeing a surge in water flows because of heavy releases from the damaged Lake Oroville spillway.

Teichert Construction will build a 500-foot-long berm on the land side of a levee on the Feather River about 2 miles east of the Sacramento River, said Joe Henderson, general manager of Reclamation District 1001, which is responsible for levee maintenance on portions of the Feather and Sacramento.

Water was seeping through the levee, similar to what happened with another district levee that was stabilized this week.

An especially wet winter had already prompted greater monitoring of capital-area levees, but reclamation districts grew more attentive after state water officials dramatically stepped up Oroville Dam releases into the Feather River to prevent further degradation of the dam’s emergency spillway.

While officials say they reduced the risk level at the dam, three storm systems forecast into next week have levee-maintenance officials working around the clock to prepare for higher water. The Sacramento River is expected to reach “monitor stage,” requiring closer attention, on Monday or Tuesday, state officials say.

The most significant work is being done in Reclamation District 1001, which started its second levee-stabilization project in response to recent storms and the Oroville situation, Henderson said.

The earlier project was completed Wednesday on the Sacramento River near the Verona Marina, about 10 miles north of Sacramento International Airport.

Henderson expects the second project to be done by Saturday. In both cases, the levees will have a “seepage berm” to slow the water that can come underneath the levees and weaken them.

“The work that they’ve done has been great and the levees are going to be much, much stronger with these walls in place,” Henderson said.

Crews finished repairing a levee along Tyler Island in the Delta on Thursday, allowing the county to completely lift its evacuation advisory for about 20 households there. A compromised levee prompted residents to evacuate Monday.

Work has also been done on levees on the Yolo Bypass near Davis and the Sacramento Bypass in West Sacramento, said Phil Carey, an assistant superintendent with the state Department of Water Resources. The state used plastic and sandbags to help secure the levees, he said.

In Sacramento and West Sacramento, officials are monitoring the levees on 24-hour patrols to make sure they’re functioning properly. The cities have assigned employees to watch the levees, in addition to the observations done by state officials responsible for levee maintenance.

West Sacramento officials say people have driven trucks, cars and motorcycles on a levee near South River Road and Village Parkway, creating deep ruts that could lead to erosion. The illegal driving occurred while the road was closed for emergency purposes.

“A lot of residents have called to complain and they’re really upset,” said Sgt. Roger Kinney of the West Sacramento Police Department. They were concerned that the off-road driving would cause the levees to fail.

An inspection by Reclamation District 900 found no structural problems with the levees, Kinney said. Nevertheless, continued driving on the levees could damage them, and the practice is illegal, he said.

Residents who see people drive on the levee or have information about people who have done so in the past are encouraged to call West Sacramento police at 916-372-3375.