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County of Monterey sends letter to federal legislators regarding delays on Pajaro Levee repairs

PAJARO, Calif. (KION-TV)- UPDATE ON DEC. 6, 2023 AT 3:03 PM- The Monterey County Board of Supervisors have sent a letter to federal lawmakers expressing their concern for Pajaro Levee repairs.

The County said that while work has been done on the main breach which is known as site 1, they are concerned about the timeline that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided on the work that will be done on sites 2 and 3.

"Any storm system this winter that elevates river water levels to the elevation of the compromised Levee system at either Site 2 or Site 3, ahead of permanent repairs, jeopardizes the protection of life and property adjacent to the Pajaro River in those locations," the Supervisors said in the letter to the federal leglisators.

The Board of Supervisors said that any potential storm systems that could potentially elevate the Pajaro River on both sites ahead of permanent repairs could threatened life and property near the river in those locations.

We have reached out to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a statement on the delays and waiting to hear back. You can read the full letter here.

Governor Newsom signs bill to speed up Pajaro River levee upgrades

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KION-TV)- UPDATE ON OCT. 16, 2023- Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 876 Friday night which will expedite upgrades for the Pajaro River levee.

The bill was authored by Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas and will fast-track the completion of work on the Pajaro River Levee Project. According to Rivas, this will offer the community of Pajaro 100 years of flood protection.

"This assembly bill, helps us stay on schedule without without these expedited authorities that state has given us. Without that, our schedule would have been at risk. So now we are still on schedule for repairs to begin the long term repairs in the summer of 2024," says Tommy Williams from Army Corps of Engineers.

This bill would not protect the county from federal laws.

"The only problem is that the federal government's laws are still into effect and they're pretty stringent. So we have to be careful what we do in terms of the Endangered Species Act, because a violation of that maybe be a $50,000 fine or you're in jail," said Glenn Church, District 2 Supervisor.

Winter storms earlier in the year caused a breach in the Pajaro River levee and forced many residents to evacuate and seek shelter at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds for months.

For far too long, Pajaro Valley residents have demanded investments in infrastructure to keep their river levee safe during extreme weather and storms. And today, we are answering that call and taking urgent action.

I am very grateful for the Governor’s signature of this important piece of legislation, and his commitment to supporting these communities. The Pajaro River Levee needs upgradesnow, and I am encouraged and relieved that we will be able to deliver them as quickly as possible.

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas

Put simply this bill allows the Pajaro River Project to be exempt from various state and local environmental laws and regulations if specified criteria are met.

Governor Newsom previously this year signed an executive order to speed up emergency repairs before next winter’s storms and approved $20 million in state funds for Pajaro to rebuild.

Thank you to Governor Newsom for signing Speaker Rivas’ important legislation to ensure the work that needs to be done to protect Pajaro Valley residents actually gets done,” Senator John Laird of Santa Cruz said. “Last fall, we celebrated a fully funded new levee project with all the partners that made it possible. We didn't make it, but this bill will move the project start time up to make sure that doesn't happen again.”

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Dania Romero

Dania Romero is an reporter at KION News Channel 46.

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Derrick Ow

Assignment Editor for KION News Channel 5/46


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