Delta levees pass inspection after Napa earthquake

STOCKTON - As soon as engineers from Kjeldsen Sinnock and Neudeck (KSN) learned of Sunday's earthquake near Napa, their assignment was clear -- check levees in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

"We got out and look, and inspect the levees to see if there's any distress, settlement," Chris Neudeck said.

KSN is a Stockton civil engineering company that maintains about half the levees in the delta. Neudeck said the levees west and northwest of Stockton held firm.

"When you shake anything and sand is in it, it tends to liquify and settle," Neudeck said. "With the low sea levels behind levees, we want to make sure that doesn't occur. In the case of the recent quake, no distress was located."

Neudeck said delta levees also held up well during the larger Loma Prieta quake from 1989.

It wasn't an earthquake, but something far less threatening that apparently caused a levee break near Stockton in 2004. Engineers believe it was a small animal, like a beaver, that dug through a levee bank, creating a huge flood on farmland.

Ten years later, Neudeck insists delta levees are wider, taller and stronger. He also said inspections are done constantly by the engineers hired by reclamation districts.


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