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Water agency unveils flood risk reduction plans

March 9, 2023

Yuba County prioritizes future, proactive efforts

The Yuba Water Agency completed its Flood Risk Management Plan and presents its future flood risk reduction projects and efforts to the board of directors.

Unlike past water resources plans, the new plan results from a 12-month study of prescribed actions to “further reduce the risk of catastrophic flooding for Yuba County and other downstream communities.”

Four overarching goals guided the plan:

  • the reduction of flood risk to the lowest level practicable
  • the increase of the flexibility and resilience of flood control facilities and operations
  • the increase of local partners’ capacity for levee maintenance and emergency response capability, and
  • the demonstration of proactive environmental stewardship

After a detailed review of all existing flood risk management studies and plans, and the agency’s strategic plan, staff and partners provided information about past and present flood risk reduction efforts.

Future of measures were identified and ranked based on four criteria: readiness, support of overarching goals, potential impacts and acceptability. Of those, 14 efforts were advanced as recommendations for the best efforts to further cut flood risk in the future.

Major recommendations include

    • a planned second spillway, the Atmospheric River Control (ARC) Spillway, at New Bullards Bar Dam to release water before large, threatening storms. This structure is “in the final stages of design and Yuba Water is actively seeking funding partners for this project that has significant regional benefits.”
    • Forecast-Coordinated Reservoir Operations, i.e. the use of weather forecasts to determine optimal releases from New Bullards Bar Dam in advance of threatening storms in order to help reduce catastrophic flood risk and improve public safety. (Currently, dam operators are required to keep the reservoir at a significantly reduced water level during storm seasons regardless of the forecast.)
    • priority levee modifications, maintenance projects and other efforts that can significantly improve emergency readiness in the county and region.

The detailed plan can be found at