After the 2023 flood, $434 million was given by the state and government under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to fund a new levee. The 100-year floodplain levee would sustain the Pajaro River, Salsipuedes Creek and Corralitos Creek with the idea that there is 1% chance of flooding every year. The construction is set to start in 2024, but could take up to a decade to finish.
The question is now raised, what can be done to prevent more flooding until the new levee is completed?
Cleaning the creeks and river of debris would prevent overflowing water, erosion and damages to the current levees. When speaking to farmers of the Pajaro Valley, Fish and Game have prevented maintenance. There needs to be permits to clean certain parts of the rivers and creeks to not disturb the natural environment and endangered species.
Fortunately, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife created Fish and Game (CDFW) Code section 1602 that allows emergency cleanups for property owners with a river or creek without a permit.
A permit would be required if the clean-up maintenance changes the natural flow of water, changes the material, or disposes debris of pavement into the water. If a property owner is unsure if a permit is needed, the regional California Department of Fish and Wildlife can be contacted. For Santa Cruz County, this is region Bay Delta (3) located in Fairfield. For Monterey County, the region is Central Region (4), located in Fresno. Bay Delta Region can be contacted through 707.428.2002 or [email protected], and Central Region’s information is 559.243.4593 or [email protected].
According to Fish and Game Code section 1610, an emergency could be considered immediate actions following an event, or prevention of an anticipated emergency event. However, the property owners need to let the CDFW know within 14 days after the emergency maintenance has begun. When preparing for a future event, the CDFW may require a “Lake or Streambed Alteration Agreement” (LSA) form before beginning work. The LSA agreement form and fees could be found on the CDFW website and submitted online or in person to the CDFW Regional Office where the work will be conducted.