Experts Warn of Impending Levy Failures in California
Experts are warning that more levy failures are likely to occur in California in the coming months due to the state’s aging and poorly maintained levee system.
The recent Pajaro levee break was just the beginning, as many of California’s more than 14,000 miles of urban and rural levees are vulnerable to high, fast water flows.
Levees protect cities, towns, homes, businesses, farms, and public property from floods, and convey two-thirds of California’s drinking water.
However, on average, they are 57 years old and were built using less rigorous standards than our current best engineering practices.
While levees protecting critical infrastructure and population centers have been improved, they represent only a small percentage of the levees in California.
Many of the thousands of miles of levees in California are mounds of dirt that are susceptible to erosion and seepage, particularly those that were damaged during the long hot drought.
Rodents often burrow into levee walls, causing further erosion and leaks.
The hydrology of California is changing dramatically, and more extreme weather, including hotter hots and drier dries, is making matters worse.
The looming threat of rural levy failures is causing concern for those who live in low-lying areas.
Many have already elevated their homes on stilts to avoid being affected by a potential flood.
However, not all homes are up on stilts, and these homes are at risk of becoming submerged if a levy fails.
Airports, including those in the Bay Area, are already building fortress wall levees to protect against sea level rise, which is another wild card that could exacerbate the levy failures.
In conclusion, experts are warning that more levy failures are inevitable in California due to the state’s aging and poorly maintained levee system.
As the hydrology of the state continues to change dramatically, more extreme weather events will occur, making matters worse.
It is imperative that the state invests in upgrading and maintaining its levee system to prevent future disasters.