So what’s at risk for flooding in California? And what problems does the state face in fixing the problem of flood management? Most of it goes far beyond what a water damage restoration company like ours can fix.
Here are some situations and issues that California flood management advocates must take into account if they are to successfully create and move forward with a sensible flood management action:
- Impact on agriculture. There is more than $7 billion of crop potential in 500-year floodplains. Overall, as much as 40 percent of the state’s vital agricultural land is in a floodplain. In fact, the Sacramento and San Joaquin River and the Tulare Lake areas have more than $1 billion in 500-year floodplains, and losing those crops for a season or more could devastate the regional or statewide economy – and disrupt the nation’s food supply.
- Impact on the environment. Being good stewards of the environment means establishing plans that protect it while allowing humans the greatest possible freedom and protection. That requires consistent regulation and protections for rare and endangered plants – and much more.
- Complex agency involvement. There are overlapping responsibilities among public agencies, conflicting regulations and other problems with getting a handle on flood management. When agencies learn to work together, duplicate efforts can be eliminated, holes in efforts can be reduced or eliminated and grander plans can come together because of greater funding and involvement.
- Infrastructure isn’t meeting needs. While the flood management infrastructure already in place – including levees – has prevented billions in damage and saved countless lives, this infrastructure needs maintenance, improvements and more. And infrastructure is not meeting rising demand as people move into areas previously known to flood, in 500-year floodplains or unprotected by seawalls and other barriers.
- Funding continues to be limited and unreliable. Even though devastating floods have proven the importance of flood management, funding is still limited and even more unreliable than in the past. In many cases, only a flood event spurs spending, and this decreases after the initial reaction. Budgets are often inadequate since the full cost of flood management sometimes isn’t considered. Plus, bond money for flood management is nearly depleted.
- Flood strategies must be part of an integrated water management effort. Collaborations across many fields and disciplines are required, and the need for drinking water stability and other water needs must be addressed at the same time flooding concerns are being dealt with.
- Recommendations must be taken seriously. For flood management efforts to work, recommendations from expert panels and committees must be taken seriously. When tools, plans and actions are suggested, they must be funded and acted upon to generate the results that everyone wants. Otherwise, flood management efforts won’t come to much.
There’s no argument that flooding causes billions in property losses and deaths in California. But agencies must learn to work together, consider the serious and far-reaching consequences of flooding and take smart actions that will bring about the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
While it will never be possible to prevent all flooding in a coastal state subject to periods of heavy rain, it is possible to better predict flooding events, prevent property loss, prevent loss of life and reduce the negative environmental and economic consequences that can come with flooding and its aftermath.
It’s a tall order to reduce the negative impacts of flooding on California, but it can be done when agencies, organizations and others take a smart, integrated and long-term approach. And it’s absolutely essential to a stable future for our state.
For help in the San Diego area with flood and water damage, call (619) 376-6838