City of Santa Maria, California
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Santa Maria River Levee

To protect Santa Maria against flooding and to help property owners avoid paying costly flood insurance, the Santa Maria River Levee (designed and built in 1959 to 1963) needs to be strengthened to modern standards. Rehabilitation work began in 2009. In early February 2012, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocated $6 million to complete the rehabilitation of the final stretch of levee, a 3,700-foot section known as the Bradley Extension (see red line on map, below). The estimated cost of this project is approximately $11 million. The City and County must contribute about $4 million and are developing a financing proposal that will be taken to the City Council and to the County Board of Supervisors.

This project will complete the overall job of strengthening the levee. The Bradley Extension section was not part of the earlier rehabilitation project that reinforced 6.3 miles of levee from Blosser Road to the City Landfill. That work took place from January 2009 to April 2011.

The City of Santa Maria successfully lobbied for levee repairs, to protect approximately 20,000 properties from the risk of flooding. The City does not own or maintain the levee. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the levee; its maintenance is the responsibility of Santa Barbara County.

photo of trenching

For much more information, check out these links below the photos:

Photos taken during the 2009-2011 Project.

Trenching for Soil Cement

photo of trenching
At the toe of the levee, crews
excavate 15 to 20 feet below
the riverbed (note where the vegetation ends), then backfill
with a thick mixture of soil
cement up to the top of the levee.

Steel Pilings for Strength

photo of trenching
To avoid digging up
environmentally sensitive riverbed
habitat along one section, a row of
massive steel pilings awaits a
crane and hammer that will
drive them deep into the earth.

Finished Section

photo of trenching
Looking west and downstream
from Suey Crossing Road,
the repaired levee is stronger
with soil cement (gray)
and the sandy riverbed has
been backfilled.

Click on photos for larger views.

News Releases From 2007 to the present
Photos Photographs of the Levee and the 1998 Breach
Summary The Levee's History and Proposed Repairs
Funding and Economic Impact Funding sources, Bid Results, Job Creation Study
Reports Two Project Reports by the Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Corps Website Direct link to the Los Angeles District
Flood Maps & Insurance Which properties are in the flood zone?

Funding and Economic Impact

The Santa Maria River Levee improvement project known as the Bradley Extension (the final 3,700 feet) received $6 million from the Army Corps of Engineers in February 2012. The City and County are created financing plans for the approximately $4 million that they will need to contribute.

The 6.3-mile stretch of levee that was strengthened in 2009-2011 was funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA). The $40.2 million of funding was announced on April 28, 2009 by the Army Corps of Engineers funding was announced on April 28, 2009 by the Army Corps of Engineers (news release). Earlier, the project received $6.7 million contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Act signed by President Obama on March 12, 2009. Bid Results. Bids for Reach 1-2 were opened September 8 in Los Angeles.

The award of the bid for Reach 3 was awarded March 19, 2010. Reach 3 is 3.13 miles from Suey Crossing Bridge to the Bradley Canyon Confluence.

To ensure a long-term fix for the levee and to again remove much of the City from the 100-year flood zone, at the urging of the City and the County, Congress appropriated $280,000 in late 2007 and directed the Army Corps to perform a study of the levee and identify fixes.

The City and County are continuing to work with the Corps of Engineers to ensure speedy completion of the project.

Read a study about projected job creation as a result of the 2009-2011 levee improvement project.

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These documents were prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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This webpage was updated on February 9, 2012.

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