The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) is a Joint Powers Agency which was formed in October 1989 to lead flood control improvement efforts for the Sacramento Area in the aftermath of the February 1986 flood.
The major levees protecting Sacramento are part of a system of a Federally authorized and State of California authorized levees and reservoirs which protect the flood-prone lowlands of the Sacramento Valley. Improvements to this flood control system are typically cost-shared with both the Federal government and the State of California in an evolving partnership framed by Federal and State laws. Typically the Federal government contributes up to 65 percent of project costs, leaving the remaining 35 percent to the non-Federal sponsor, which in the Central Valley, is the State of California Central Valley Flood Protection Board (CVFPB). The State contributes up to 70 percent of the non-Federal share, leaving 30 percent for the local sponsor, such as SAFCA. Thus SAFCA’s cost sharing obligation for Federally authorized and State authorized projects is approximately 10.5 percent (30 percent of the 35 percent non-Federal share).
Federal and State authorizations and appropriations, as well as a framework of Federal and State laws dictate to a large extent how SAFCA’s flood control system improvements are planned, permitted, designed, constructed, and operated. This section describes some of the key Federal and State laws, as well as local resolutions, which specifically affect SAFCA's structure, operations, and projects.
SAFCA's structure, powers, and procedures are primarily defined by the SAFCA Joint Powers Memorandum of Agreement, first signed in October 1989, and most recently updated January 17, 1991, and the SAFCA Act, passed by the State Legislature in 1990. The SAFCA Act was amended by AB 930 (Jones) which was signed into law on October 13, 2007.
The Sacramento River Flood Control Project (Project) was authorized in 1917, and essentially completed in 1958, when it was turned over to the State of California for maintenance. The Project includes levees along the major rivers and streams draining into the Sacramento Valley and series of weirs and bypass channels to shunt flow from the main river channels into the Sutter Bypass and the Yolo Bypass. About 80 percent of the Sacramento Valley drainage flowing past Sacramento toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta does so in the Yolo Bypass, while about 20 percent remains in the main channel of the Sacramento River.
Erosion of the stream banks and waterside levee slopes has been an ongoing problem since construction of the Project began, leading to authorization of the Sacramento River Bank Protection Project in 1960. Since 1960, over 840,000 lineal feet of bank protection has been constructed along the banks of the Project.
Beginning in the 1930's, a series of multi-purpose reservoirs were constructed on all of the major rivers draining into the Sacramento Valley, including Folsom Dam and Reservoir, authorized in 1945 and completed in 1955.
The 1986 flood demonstrated that this system of levees, bypass channels, and multi-purpose dams and reservoirs did not perform as well as expected when designed, and that it provided an inadequate level of flood protection to the growing urban areas on the valley floor, including Sacramento, Marysville, Yuba City, and other communities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) conducted a system evaluation in five phases, leading to recommendations for a series of Federally-sponsored improvements to the Project levees and recommendations for physical and operational improvements to the multi-purpose reservoirs protecting the valley floor. The result was a series of Federal and State authorizations to make the recommended improvements. Some of the proposed improvements, such as the proposed Auburn Dam on the American River upstream of Folsom Dam, were very controversial and not authorized.
A mix of Federal, State, and local agencies have been involved in flood control project construction and operation since levees were first constructed in California in the mid-1800's. Since the creation of the State Reclamation Board (now the Central Valley Flood Protection Board or CVFPB) in 1911 and the authorization of the Project in 1917, most Project levee improvements have been first Federally authorized by Congress, then subsequently authorized by the State Legislature. Typically these works have been constructed by the Corps with State and local cost sharing, then turned over to the CVFPB for operation and maintenance. The CVFPB then turned the operation and maintenance over to the State Department of Water Resources or local agencies.
Since the flooding of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 the traditional pattern of Federal leadership in authorization and construction of Project levees has begun to change. With the passage of Proposition 84 and Proposition 1E in 2006, the State of California has been authorized by California voters to spend up to about five billion dollars for flood system improvements. Thus major system improvements are being planned, designed, and constructed prior to Federal authorization by State-local partnerships.
The major flood control system improvements authorized and constructed for the Sacramento area are summarized below:
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Federal Project Authorizations
The Sacramento Area Urban Levee Reconstruction Project was constructed by the Corps from 1990 through 1993. It included the Sacramento River East levee from Verona to Freeport. No new Federal authorization was required, as the Corps determined that the levees did not perform up to the performance specifications of the original PROJECT.
The North Area Local Project was authorized in the Defense Appropriations Act of 1993. This Act authorized the Corps to improve the levees protecting the Natomas Basin and the North Area Streams to achieve a high level of flood protection. The Act allowed the non-Federal sponsor to construct the project and be reimbursed for Federal project costs. SAFCA constructed the project between 1993 and 1998, leading to 100-year certification for the Natomas levees in 1998.
The American River Watershed, Common Features Project was recommended by the U.S. Army Corps Chief of Engineers in a June 27, 1996 report to Congress and authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 1996. This authorization included improvements to levees along the American River and a portion of the Natomas Basin. The Act also authorized interim operation of Folsom Dam and Reservoir with variable storage of 400,000 acre-feet to 670,000 acre-feet, depending on storage in upstream reservoirs.
Further improvements to the American River levees and the Natomas levees were authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 1999. This act also authorized the South Sacramento County Streams Project, the modification of Folsom Dam to enlarge its outlet capacity, and permanent re-operation of the dam and reservoir to provide greater flood control storage space in the Reservoir during the flood season.
The Energy and Water Resources Development Appropriations Act of 2002 provided that any water shortages caused by re-operation of Folsom Dam and Reservoir to improve flood control would be made up by water purchases through the Bureau of Reclamation, cost shared between Reclamation and SAFCA 75 percent/25 percent.
A proposal to raise Folsom Dam by up to seven feet and to build a permanent bridge for traffic to cross the American River downstream of the dam was authorized in the Energy and Water Resources Development Appropriations Act of 2004.
The proposal to modify the existing outlets to Folsom Dam proved to be more difficult and expensive than originally envisioned, leading to development of a new approach to increasing the dam’s outlet capacity: An auxiliary spillway on the south abutment to the dam. The auxiliary spillway, which will jointly meet the dam safety requirements which must be met by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the improved flood release capacity goal set by the Corps, was authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2007. The act also authorized the Corps to reimburse SAFCA and the State of California for expenses incurred in constructing the North Area Local Project between 1993 and 1998, as well as authorized more favorable cost sharing terms for the Magpie Creek Project.
Since subsequent authorizations sometimes alter the language of earlier authorizations, the governing language for SAFCA’s Federal project authorizations is an integration of all relevant authorizations. SAFCA has prepared two tables which allow the interested reader to see both the original language of the various Federal acts, as well as the fully integrated authorizations currently governing SAFCA’s projects. The two tables can be accessed at the following links:
1) Tabulation of SAFCA Federal authorizations, Original Language (Excel Spreadsheet)
2) Tabulation of SAFCA Federal authorizations, Integrated and Updated Lanaguage (Excel Spreadsheet)
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California State Project Authorizations
State participation in the Federal American River Watershed, Common Features Project was authorized under AB 1593 (1997).
State Participation in the updated American River Watershed, Common Features Project, the Folsom Dam Modifications Project, and the South Sacramento Streams Group Project was authorized in Sections 12 and 13 of AB 1147 (2000), along with provisions for reimbursements to SAFCA for expenditures by SAFCA of costs attributable to the State cost share.
AB 1020 (2004) authorizes SAFCA to serve as the non-Federal sponsor for the South Sacramento County Streams Project in lieu of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board.
SB 1280(2005) authorizes the State to participate in the Folsom Dam Raise and Bridge project.
SB 347(2005) clarifies the State authorization to participate and cost share in the funding of the bridge portion of the Folsom Dam Raise and Bridge project.
State participation in SAFCA’s 200-year flood plan, as described in SAFCA’s Final Engineer’s Report, SAFCA Consolidated Capital Assessment District, April 19, 2007, was authorized under SB 276 (2007).
In order to facilitate SAFCA participation in the conservation of agriculture and open space in flood prone areas AB 930 (2007) authorized SAFCA to purchase easements outside of its jurisdictional boundaries where such purchase of easements is consistent with the State Plan of Flood Control and county plans, including county general plans. SAFCA has never had, nor sought to exercise the power of eminent domain outside of its jurisdictional boundaries; AB 930 does not alter this situation.
California State project authorizations are annually integrated into the California State Water Code. Selected sections of special relevance to SAFCA’s projects include the following:
Sacramento River Flood Control Project:
12648. The projects for the control of floods and other purposes on
the Sacramento River adopted by the acts of Congress approved March
1, 1917, May 15, 1928, August 26, 1937, and August 18, 1941, and
adopted and authorized by the Legislature by Chapter 25, Statutes of
1911, First Extra Session, Chapter 170, Statutes of 1913, Chapter
686, Statutes of 1915, and Chapter 176, Statutes of 1925, are adopted
and authorized as modified substantially in accordance with the
recommendations of the Chief of Engineers in House Document Numbered
649, Seventy-eighth Congress, Second Session, except as provided in
Section 12649, at an estimated additional cost to the State of three
million three hundred twenty-six thousand dollars ($3,326,000), or
such other project as shall finally be decided upon which will
accomplish the same flood control purposes as proposed by the Table
Mountain Dam or any other dam across the Sacramento River in the same
general vicinity, subject to modification that may hereafter be made
by Congress. (1953)
American River Flood Control Project:
12648.1. The plan of flood control on the American River is hereby
authorized and adopted substantially in accordance with the
recommendations of the Chief of Engineers, House Document Numbered
367, Eighty-first Congress, and adopted and authorized by the act of
Congress approved August 17, 1954, at an estimated state cost of five
hundred thousand dollars ($500,000). Said project shall be
considered as extending and supplementing the projects authorized
pursuant to Section 12648. Section 12828 shall not be applicable to
the project. (1955)
Folsom Reservoir on the American River:
12659. The project for the Folsom Reservoir on the American River
is adopted and authorized substantially in accordance with the plans
contained in House Document Numbered 649, Seventy-eighth Congress,
Second Session, with such modifications as in the discretion of the
Secretary of War and the Chief of Engineers may be advisable, and
without cost to the State. (1953)
South Sacramento County Streams: Morrison Creek, Beach-Stone Lake Unit:
12664. The project for the Beach-Stone Lake Unit of the Morrison
Creek Stream Group Flood Control Project is adopted and authorized
substantially in accordance with the plans developed by the County of
Sacramento at such estimated cost to the state as may be
appropriated for state cooperation by the Legislature upon the
recommendation and advice of the department. This authorization
shall not be deemed to confer preference on this project over the
needs of other statewide programs in appropriation of available
12665. With respect to the project authorized in Section 12664, the
County of Sacramento shall acquire the lands, easements, and
rights-of-way, even though the project report has not been submitted
by the Secretary of the Army or other authorized official to the
Congress for project authorization, and may make application to the
department for reimbursement pursuant to Section 12829 upon inclusion
of the Beach-Stone Lake Unit of the Morrison Creek Stream Group
Flood Control Project as part of a flood control project authorized
by Congress. Prior to the acquisition of any lands, easements, or
rights-of-way for the project, the County of Sacramento shall execute
an agreement with the department under which it agrees to hold the
state harmless from damages due to the construction, operation, or
maintenance of the project. (1967)
Flood Protection along the Lower American River
12670.10. The project for flood protection along the American River
is adopted and authorized substantially in accordance with the
recommendations of the Chief of Engineers, in the report entitled"American River Watershed, California" dated June 27, 1996, and as
adopted and authorized by Congress on October 12, 1996, in Section
101 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-303), at
an estimated cost to the state of the sum that may be appropriated
by the Legislature for state participation, upon the recommendation
and advice of the department or the Reclamation Board.
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Folsom Dam Raise & Bridge
12670.11. (a) (1) The project for flood damage reduction and
environmental restoration in the American River watershed in
Sacramento County is adopted and authorized substantially in
accordance with Congressional approval and the final report of the
Chief of Engineers dated November 5, 2002, as authorized by Section
128 of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2004 (P.L. 108-137), at an estimated cost to the state of the sum that may
be appropriated for state cooperation by statute, upon the
recommendation and advice of the department or the Reclamation Board.
(2) The project includes the construction of a new bridge with an
estimated cost of sixty-six million dollars ($66,000,000), of which
thirty-six million dollars ($36,000,000) is allocated to flood damage
reduction and dam safety.
(3) The state's share of the bridge project cost shall be at least
five million, two hundred thousand dollars ($5,200,000), but not
more than nine million dollars ($9,000,000), of the project amount
that is allocated to flood damage reduction.
(4) The calculation of the state's share of the funding pursuant
to paragraph (3) shall be determined by the Federal government's
allocation of the costs of the bridge to the dam safety features of
(b) The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency shall enter into an
agreement with the department pursuant to which the 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 arise
out of the planning, design, construction, operation, maintenance,
repair, and rehabilitation of the project.
(c) The City of Folsom shall serve as the non-Federal sponsor of
the bridge authorized as part of the project and shall enter into an
agreement with the department to receive the state's proportionate
share of the cost of the bridge and to indemnify and hold and save
harmless the state, its officers, agents, and employees for any and
all liability for damages that may arise out of the planning, design,
construction, operation, maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation of
SAFCA Assurances of Non-Federal Cooperation
12670.12. With regard to the project for flood control authorized
in Section 12670.10, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency may
join the department or the Reclamation Board in providing the
Secretary of the Army with the assurances of non-Federal cooperation
required by the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, and may, in
conjunction with the Department of the Army, carry out the project
with the modifications and amendments that may be necessary to
fulfill the purposes of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 12570) and
this chapter. The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency shall be
reimbursed pursuant to Section 12585.5 for any project costs that the
agency advances on behalf of the department or the Reclamation
Board, provided that prior to any such reimbursement, the agency
shall execute an agreement with the department under which it agrees
to indemnify and hold the state harmless from damages due to the
construction, operation, or maintenance of the project and agrees to
operate, maintain, repair, replace, and rehabilitate the project.
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SAFCA 200-Year Plan Authorization
12670.14. The following projects in areas within the City of
Sacramento and the Counties of Sacramento and Sutter are adopted and
authorized at an estimated cost to the state of the sum that may be
appropriated by the Legislature for state participation upon the
recommendation and advice of the department or the Reclamation Board:
(a) The project for flood control in the Natomas and North
Sacramento areas adopted and authorized by Congress in Section 9159
of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1993 (Public Law
102-396) substantially in accordance with the recommendations of the
Chief of Engineers in the report entitled "American River Watershed
Investigation" dated July 1, 1992.
(b) The project for flood control along the American and
Sacramento Rivers adopted and authorized by Congress in Section 101
(a)(1) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 substantially
in accordance with the recommendations of the Chief of Engineers in
the report entitled "American River Watershed Project, California"
dated June 27, 1996, as modified by Congress in Section 366 of the
Water Resources Development Act of 1999, and as further modified to
include the project features necessary to provide a 200-year level of
flood protection along the American and Sacramento Rivers and within
the Natomas Basin as described in the final engineer's report dated
April 19, 2007, adopted by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.
(c) The project to modify Folsom Dam adopted and authorized by
Congress in Section 101(a)(6) of the Water Resources Development Act
of 1999, as described in the United States Army Corps of Engineers
Supplemental Information Report for the American River Watershed
Project, California, dated March 1996, as modified by the report
entitled "Folsom Dam Modification Report, New Outlets Plan," dated
March 1998, prepared by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, and
as further modified by the Post-Authorization Change Report,
American River Watershed Project (Folsom Dam Modification and Folsom
Dam Raise Projects), dated March 2007, adopted by Congress in Section
3023 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007.
(d) (1) The project for flood control, environmental restoration,
and recreation along south Sacramento County streams adopted and
authorized by Congress in Section 101(a)(7) of the Water Resources
Development Act of 1999 as described in the report of the Chief of
Engineers entitled "South Sacramento County Streams, California"
dated October 6, 1998.
(2) Notwithstanding Section 12657, at the discretion of the
Reclamation Board, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency may
provide, for the project described in paragraph (1), the assurances
of local cooperation satisfactory to the Secretary of the Army, in
accordance with Section 12657, in lieu of assurances by the
12670.16. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the
Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency's share of the non-Federal
capital costs of the projects for flood control authorized in Section
12670.14 shall be calculated in accordance with Section 12585.5, and
the agency shall be reimbursed pursuant to Section 12585.5 for any
costs of project features that the agency advances on behalf of the
department or Reclamation Board if either of the following
requirements is met:
(1) The advances are made in response to a Federal request for
payment of the non-Federal share of the cost of the project.
(2) If the advances are made for project features that have not
yet been authorized by Congress, the Reclamation Board has received a
written determination by the Federal government that the project
features will likely be authorized by Congress and, if so authorized,
the advances will be eligible for credit toward the non-Federal share
of the cost of these features.
(b) Prior to any reimbursement pursuant to subdivision (a), the
agency shall execute an agreement with the department under which it
agrees to indemnify and hold the state harmless from damages due to
the construction, operation, or maintenance of those projects and
agrees to operate, maintain, repair, replace, and rehabilitate those
projects, or provide the agreement of its appropriate member agency
to do so.
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|SAFCA Policy Framework
In February 2006 the SAFCA Board of Directors adopted a policy framework to guide the Agency’s legislative efforts, particularly with respect to working with the State, other local flood agencies, and the Corps in the formulation of a new Central Valley Flood Protection Plan. With minor modifications, the policy framework was subsequently adopted by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) at its April 2006 meeting. This policy framework continues to guide SAFCA staff in the ongoing regional, State, and Federal plan formulation process.