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Bipartisan Bill Designed To Expedite Fixing Levees
Harder district

Introducing bipartisan legislation on Aug. 29, California 9th District Congressman Josh Harder said the goal is to protect communities from severe flooding and get damaged levees in flood-prone areas fixed as quickly as possible.

The Safeguarding Our Levees Act would cut through the red tape that slows down the Army Corps of Engineers’ efforts to repair levees – the bill also reduces the financial burden of levee improvements for local communities. After heavy rainfall like Northern California saw earlier this year, communities rely on the Army Corps to repair levees quickly before another flood. Right now, red tape can slow the Army Corps’ work to rehabilitate levees by months or even years, leaving communities unprotected for the next flood event. Representative Clay Higgins (LA-3) joined Harder in introducing the bill. This legislation is endorsed by the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency (SJAFCA).

“Families in San Joaquin County are still dealing with flood damage from the heavy rain earlier this year and we need to do everything we can to prevent catastrophic flooding before the next big storm,” said Rep. Harder. “The fact that there are broken levees that still haven’t been fixed simply because of red tape is unacceptable, and my bill aims to change that. The Central Valley is incredibly vulnerable to severe flooding, and this is an important step to protect homes, businesses, farms, and communities in our region.”

“From the north, Louisiana receives all the water from the entire Mississippi River basin, and the Gulf of Mexico itself presents endless threat of flood,” added Congressman Higgins. “Our levee systems have not been adequately modernized and maintained for decades, primarily because of unnecessarily complex bureaucracy and endless delays caused by government interference. This legislation forces the federal government to act in a very timely manner once Congress approves and funds a project. It’s a win for all of America.”

Specifically, the Safeguarding Our Levees Act would amend the Levee Rehabilitation and Inspection Program (PL 84-99) for high-risk communities to:

Require broken levees to be rehabilitated by the Army Corps of Engineers in 180 days and remove the financial burden on local communities by creating a 75 percent federal/25 percent non-federal cost share for levee improvements.

“Levees are our most important tool to mitigate the risk of flooding, but red tape and high costs make it difficult and expensive to repair our broken levees. The Safeguarding Our Levees Act helps address this problem by streamlining the Army Corps levee rehabilitation program so agencies like SJAFCA can more seamlessly partner with the USACE to expeditiously undertake emergency repairs in the aftermath of natural disasters,” said Chris Elias, Executive Director of the San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency (SJAFCA). “Importantly, the proposal will make it more affordable for our vulnerable communities to incur their share of the costs of the necessary rehabilitation work. This legislation will result in maximizing the resiliency of our levees against future flood events and avoid repetitive damage.”