To Save Northern California from Going The Way of New Orleans

The massive flooding inflicted on New Orleans last year sent a clear message to Northern California: neglecting levee maintenance can have dire consequences.

Public agencies have begun to respond. Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers and federal agencies agreed to expedite environmental review procedures for levee repair at sites on or around the Sacramento River. The Corps has assured the public that the construction will be completed by November 2006, in time for the next rainy season. This is an important and positive step.

However, the plan failed to include much-needed repair plans for the levees just south of the Sacramento River that protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta region from flooding. Let's be clear: If the Bay-Delta levees fail, human lives will be threatened and the freshwater that supports the California economy will be ruined.

The federal and state governments should stop studying and start rebuilding these levees.The Delta communities deserve real results, not just endless talk. It's time for shovels to hit the dirt.