Thursday, December 20, 2007

Media: Suisun City creeks, canals cleared to reduce risk of winter flooding

For more information on City preparations and homeowner tips, visit Suisun City's Storm Information section.

From Daily Republic (Subscription required)
By Carol Bogart | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - Only a handful of houses in Suisun City sustained flood damage during heavy the rains last winter, but city officials learned in April they had a bigger problem.

The Army Corps of Engineers notified Suisun City it was no longer eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds in the event of severe flooding. Some of the city's storm canals were so clogged with trees and brambles, storm runoff could back up when water flows were high, the city learned.

Suisun City is at increased risk for flooding because it has the lowest elevation in the county relative to the high tide line.

The few houses that had water damage during last winter's storms are located just east of Sunset Avenue on the north side of Canvasback Drive, and most at risk are homes located at the bend where Lauren Creek connects with McCoy Creek, according to the city.

To clear vegetation from the McCoy Creek canal and others, the city first had to have a permit from the California Department of Fish and Game. Federal officials and the California Department of Water Resources wanted better flood control. Fish and Game wanted to make sure species native to the area weren't compromised by the clearing.

To satisfy all parties, the city hired Anselmo Services, a subcontractor who specializes in satisfying the various agencies' requirements, said Lee Evans, associate city engineer and project manager. For instance, workers kept silt to a minimum as the vegetation was removed so fish eggs wouldn't suffocate.

Meantime, public works employees certified in proper application of herbicide treated tree stumps to kill the roots, Evans said.

'Our ditches are clear,' Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez said.

The employees have also been preparing the city for winter storms by keeping street storm drains clear of leaves, along with other measures, he added.

'We're really proud of the proactive role that public works has done,' Sanchez said.

Satisfying both the state Fish and Game Department, with its emphasis on protecting indigenous species, and the California Department of Water Resources, with its emphasis on flood control, was 'tricky.'

'The city walked a narrow line,' he added.

Evans remembers a time years ago when there were fewer regulations. Cities could simply clear-cut trees, brambles and other overgrowth, he said. He doesn't take issue with today's regulations, however.

'As a population, we must be more environmentally conscious because the planet does take a burden from us,' he said.

Both state agencies have now approved the work, Evans said.

'We no longer have to worry about losing our FEMA funds if there's a FEMA event, and God willing, there won't be.'

The city is cleared to be back on FEMA's list as soon as the Army Corps of Engineers submits the paperwork.

Reach Carol Bogart at 427-6955 or at


Sand and bags for public use are stockpiled in the parking lot behind the police department. The materials are available to residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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