Thursday April 28, 2022

Monterey County Weekly

For over 50 years, since 1966, the Pajaro River levee has been on the radar of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ reconstruction list as a needed upgrade to protect the community from flooding, yet it has remained undone. The $400 million project is now one step closer to reality, thanks to $67 million in federal funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for its first construction phase. (It’s currently in its design and environmental phase.)

Since the levee was built in 1949, it has broken several times. In 1995 the flooding caused $95 million in damage; in 2017, the levee almost broke again.

About 3,000 properties – including residential, industrial, commercial and agricultural – in both North Monterey County and South Santa Cruz Country border the Pajaro River.

Normally a project like this would require locals to bear part of the cost – in this case, 10 percent, or $42 million – but the Pajaro River Flood Risk Management Project is unique in that it has full state and federal funding. “It was just not affordable to raise the local share for that amount of funding,” says Kim Floyd, public outreach consultant for the Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency.

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