SACRAMENTO, Calif — With these winter storms and more rain on the way, Reclamation District 1000 is hard at work patrolling our local levees to make sure we don’t experience any flooding.
Thursday’s rain already highlighted a number of concerns.
The unhoused are even living in the levees, and that’s not all.
ABC10 got a tour of the pump facility and even joined workers on a patrol route.
We started our tour with Reclamation District 1000 General Manager Kevin King at the largest pumping plant just off Garden Hwy. The first line of defense is to push water over the levee and into the Sacramento River.
“We rely on this pumping plant for probably 70% of all water that comes into our basin,” said King.
All the water ends up near Garden Highway the lowest point and gets pumped back out.
The water isn’t moving, thick with trash the district will run a machine to remove all the trash before it gets pumped out.
“We’re not too concerned about today’s rain it’s subsequent storms we do anticipate turning on the pumping station tomorrow morning,” said King.
But he does have a different concern.
“Thirty years behind in deferred maintenance and last October we had a 200-year flood event, this pumping plant which is our prime pumping plant had 50% failure at the peak of that storm,” said King.
It wasn’t because it was too much water it was a mechanical failure.
They were just three inches away from having to dump the water onto Interstate 80 at West El Camino.
“ We are in a run-to-failure mode now if we have a failure during a storm event we can’t get parts one of these pumps we have on order and it’s been a year and half now and we still haven’t gotten it in,” said King.
Also on the site, the oldest infrastructure for the district dates back to 1911.
It’s only used in extreme circumstances and it’s in dire need of repair.
“We are in the process of repairing and replacing this pumping plant and it was previously covered up with duct tape,” said King.
130,000 people in the basin rely on pumping stations to not be flooded.
“Not only is it the population but three major transportation corridors Interstate 80, I-5, and 99 that run right through the heart of the district but also Sacramento International Airport so huge impact to the economy should we have flooding in the basin,” said King.
But there are other separate issues.
Those living in homeless encampments use pickaxes and shovels to dig into the levees.
They took us to Garden Highway and Bridgeport.
A four-foot hole was dug into the land side of the levee but a resident of this encampment.
“That hole of that excavation just gets larger and larger and larger and eats away at the levee,” said King.
King says his staff is not equipped with the skill set to engage with the unhoused community.
They are there to patrol but the encampment slows them down plus they have no idea what holes and destruction are under these tarps. All they can do is ask for them to relocate.
Reclamation District 100 does have a Capital Improvement Plan.
It would involve raising rates for residents.
But there hasn’t been an increase in decades.
It would be a $12 increase, essentially one dollar a month to have money for these repairs.