Welcome to the SAFE LEVEE HOME PAGE
This web site is devoted to finding and implementing a permanent safe and economical solution to the problem of levee failure flooding in the Sacramento Valley.
This site last updated 5/8/97 Please check back for future additions to this site.
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"The long awaited Yuba County Levees restoration and enhancement project contract was awarded on January 24, 1997...the first phase which will be completed this year, will consist of building approximately two and half miles of Slurry Walls."
Pictures of SAFE and KILLER levees
This section highlights many of the current 'popular' theories on how we should respond to the flood crisis, and shows the fallacious reasoning upon which they are based. REMEMBER >>>EVERY FLOOD (ALL 4 FLOODS) IN THE YUBA/SUTTER/COLUSA AREA WERE CAUSED BY SEEPAGE RELATED FAILURE OF A SAND AND DIRT LEVEE. IF THE LEVEE'S HAD SCB SLURRY WALL CORES WE WOULD HAVE HAD NO FLOODS. REPEAT NO FLOODS
These responses include:
The 1986 Flood
|Below is the text of a
cover letter included with the levee rebuilding proposal
in August 1986
This letter (with drawings enclosed) was sent to the Sutter County Supervisors and the State Dept. Of Water Resources in California
| R.C.Morton 1840 North Township Rd. Yuba City
California 95993 530-671-1263
August 6 1986
As a homeowner and business owner in Sutter County, California, I was astounded this February to find myself and a hundred thousand neighbors in the midst of a tropical monsoon, surrounded by burgeoning rivers being held back by antiquated levees.
In the last 30 years our local area has had two major levee failures (1955,1986) . Without a major overhaul of our levee system or a massive dam building program, we are certain to have future catastrophic floods.
I have enclosed several sketches of one possible (economical) solution to the problem of levee-failure related flooding.
My idea is to convert one of the Hammonton Gold Dredgers into a "levee core-building machine". This machine (or something similar) would automate the process of levee repair and would be economical for several reasons:
1. The construction costs of the machine itself would would be minimized relative to the number of miles of levees in need of repair. As a mass production device, the cost of the machine would be the reciprocal of the miles of levee repaired ( over a thousand miles of levee are in need).
2. The modification of the gold dredger would include the conversion of the existing gold processing machinery into a mobile aggregate & concrete plant. This would allow the continuous recycling of the excavated levee strata for use as aggregate and sand for the on-board concrete plant. This would save on material cost, transportation, and labor ( working 24 hour shifts the Hammonton dredges excavated & processed 10,000 cubic yards of material a day).
3. The operating costs would be decreased relative to the extent of the automation of the machine. The use of laser-controlled hydraulics levelers, the massive bucket line, electric conveyors, moving steel concrete forms and the on-board concrete plant, would minimize labor costs, and maximize speed and efficiency (The Hammonton Gold Dredgers were operated by one man in a central "winch room").
4. The ability of this on-board concrete plant to pour up to a 3 foot thick concrete core up to 80 feet deep would allow a permanent solution to the levee failure problem. Such a levee could survive any conceivable "worst possible scenario" event.
5. The costs of the project would be recouped with the prevention of a single flood, by saving on flood insurance, and more importantly, by the possible saving of a single life. ( We may be able to get the federal government to finance the project, via the Army Corps. of Engineers.)
On the evening of Feb 20, 1986 when the Linda Levee broke, I heard a bulletin on the radio: a call for all available boats to help with the evacuation. Since my boat was already hitched up, I rushed over to the Y.C. fire department to volunteer. As it turned out, I was not needed; and, perhaps, the same is true of this letter. However, I am again willing to assist in any way possible.
Remember: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
Sincerely, R.C. Morton
|1997 Flood Letter (10 years later)|
|10 years and one more
killer flood later I re-read the letter I wrote in 1986.
If my proposal ( or something similar) had been completed
over the last 10 years, there would have been NO flooding
in the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa area and 3 flood victims would
be alive today.
I believe the flood of 1997 will finally stop the nonsense of the so-called "levee experts" predicting which levee sections are "dangerous" and which are "safe". This flood (with multiple levee failures) proved conclusively that while we cannot predict where our sand and dirt levee's will fail, we can predict with certainty that ALL sections of our levees have the potential to fail.
We need a SAFE levee system not a KILLER levee system! We should live in a 100 year flood plain NOT a 10 year flood plain!
Our levee system should be considered part of the California water project and it should be re-engineered and re-constructed to the same quality standards of the rest of the California Water Project. All the parts of the California Water Project are built to modern engineering standards (Oroville Dam, The Aqueduct, the Fore bay/After bay etc.). The weak link in the system is our sand and dirt levee system. The flood storage allotment in Lake Oroville is based on the assumption our levees can handle high water levels during flood conditions. This assumption has proved false and we either need to make our levees safe at high water OR we need to radically change the flood storage allotments in Lake Oroville (and Bullards Bar).
One omission from my proposed levee rebuilding plan in 1986 was the need for a spillway system for our levees. Should Lake Oroville go to un-controlled release we need a system of levee spillways so the our levees will not be breached and destroyed should the water have to go over the top of the levees. These spillways could release water in pre-designated agricultural areas rather than in populated areas.
Also I would like to thank all of the people who risked their lives trying to fix the many leaks in our levees.
January 20 1997
Please e-mail any comments or ideas you may have to firstname.lastname@example.org
|I would like to thank
Jeffery Farrar of the U.S.B.R. Merl Group (Bureau
of Reclamation MATERIALS ENGINEERING AND RESEARCH
LABORATORY ) for his thoughtful letter (shown
below) regarding the
engineering aspects of making our levee's safe.
Subject: Levee Rehab
Todd Rutenbeck forwarded your request to look at your levee proposal.First I should say that I will not comment on the political aspects of the levee problems. The levee's I believe are the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). There is a Flood Control act which will provide funding through USACE. They are responsible for determining the cost benefits and requesting funding. I am sure you are in contact with them. With the recent flooding that occurred, maybe this will prompt more funding.
I worked with USACE in Rock Island to repair levees in 1993 after the Mississippi flooding. Virtually all of the flooded areas were agricultural - because the cost benefit could not justify raising the levees - I think they were 100 yr return period. Municipal areas (I think 500 yr return period) generally made it through the floods. The agricultural mainstems were raised with sand. The side stems were clay and were resistant to overtopping erosion. Your idea of spillways was being discussed for the agricultural areas to prevent major erosion damage to the mainstems. I believe this is a good idea. We had sand sections thousands of ft. long wash out - when we could have spilled a few hundred ft over a clay zone and alleviate major reconstruction costs
Your dredger idea is interesting. Let me assure that the geotechnical engineers at USACE and USBR have similar construction techniques. The reason we don't just fix all the levees is the cost. Money must be authorized. In order to keep an open slot 80 ft. deep you need something to hold the excavation open. We use bentonite slurry for this purpose. We call these trenches "slurry trenches." After the trench has been opened we can backfill it with concrete or soil/cement/bentonite (SCB) mixtures. If all you want to do is to prevent seepage failures - you don't need structural concrete - you can use SCB - which is much cheaper. There are different ways to excavate these trenches depending on the depths and the materials. In some applications panels are excavated and backfilled individually by tremie. In other applications long trenches are excavated and the backfill is placed at one end and displaces the slurry because it is heavier. In Europe they developed rock mills to cut soft rock. Most shallow work (0-30 ft.) is done by long arm backhoes. Deeper work can be done with clamshells or draglines. Generally dredgers aren't used, but I suppose that type of equipment could be modified for that purpose. Maybe you should get into this business!
Reclamation used a vibrating H beam slurry wall method on a levee in CA to demonstrate how to strenghten levees. Reclamation probably is the most experienced agency in the US with slurry wall construction. We have rehabilitated about 5 dams (Fontenlle, Navajo, Meeks Cabin, and currently Twin Buttes Dam, San Angelo TX) with this technique. We have placed materials at depths much greater than 80 ft. We pioneered the use of rock mills or hydrofraises for cutting harder materials. This equipment was developed in Europe but I think we were the first to use it in the US. Our technical experts have worked to standardize slurry wall contruction in technical committees of ASTM.
I understand that USACE has been working to strengthen some levees in CA because I have heard technical discussions about slurry wall construction. I think there may have been work underway and you should contact your USACE office to go see this construction. Relamation has significant experience with slurry wall construction - I not so sure of USACE - Sacramento experience level. The major contractors in slurry wall construction (Bauer, Hayward Baker, etc.) look to Reclamation for technical expertise in wall design. We have been asked by contractors bidding on USACE levee work in CA to help design their SCB backfill mixes. In order not to conflict with the Corps - we contacted them to offer our assistance. We declined to assist the contractors due to potential conflicts of interest. I don't believe the Corps have asked for our help yet - but we have been alerted that field staff may be required to assist with cleanup and reconstruction efforts. Reclamation often works with USACE on disaster response. The central Technical Service Center of Reclamation - in Denver has a complete engineering staff to assist with levee rehabilitation. Maybe if major funding is obtained for strengthening levees, we can assist the Corps. We have construction staff in CA which can oversee the contracts. We have the technical staff in Denver to design the walls.
I work with the Bureau of Reclamation. We have an office in Sacramento. The opinions you get from me do not necessarily represent those of the Bureau. Please contact our office for official opinions.
"...The chance that the current flood control system could pass a 200-year storm without levee failure and major flooding in Sacramento is about 16 percent...."
"...Levee failure along the lower American River could result in flooding of more than 100,000 acres. Many of the more than 400,000 residents in the flood plain would be affected. Damages would range from $7 billion from flooding from a 100-year storm to more than $16 billion for a 400-year storm. Flooding would result in loss of lives, mainly drownings from rapid inundation of the flood plain,..."
Part of the Solutions for Sacramento Area...
"In September 1990, the US Army Corps of Engineers (COA), Sacramento District, started Phase 1 installation work for an eleven mile long slurry cutoff wall in the flood control levee on the east bank of the Sacramento River south of Downtown Sacramento..."
"Geotechnical investigations after the high flood of the Sacramento River in 1985 and 1986 concluded that a cutoff wall would be required to control seepage and to prevent sudden levee failure due to piping during flood conditions" Case History June 1-4 1993 International Geotechnical Engineering Conference.
"...* Constructing a slurry wall in about 24 miles of existing levees along the lower American River..."
"...* Strengthening and raising about 12 miles of levees on the east side of the Sacramento River between the Natomas Cross Canal and the mouth of the American River"
For the complete USACE Sacramento Flood Plan Visit the following web site... http://spk41.usace.mil/cespk-pd/execsum.html
...Construction Contract II (south of Marysville) has been divided into two contracts. Contract IIA, the slurry wall portion, has been advertised to solicit bids. Bid opening is scheduled for September 12, 1996. The slurry wall is designed for a 200-year-level of protection. The local cost for betterments for the slurry wall is $1,700,000. Contract IIB, toe drains, will be advertised next year. Locally requested betterments will be a part of this contract also... CDWR
For more information on work in the Marysville area visit the link below (and read the e-mails below)
|The Experts Quoted
thoughout this site have their own unique language or "water eubonics" There is an excellant "Water Words"
dictionary on the internet (http://www.state.nv.us/cnr/ndwp/dict-1/waterwds.htm). You can learn the meaning of "flood
plain" vs. "flood plane" and then you can
impress your friends with your knowledge next time you
are in an flood evacuation center.
If you are interested in the magic and the power of rivers I would reccomend that you read "Life on the Mississippi" by Mark Twain. Our greatest author writing about our greatest river!
If you agree with the ideas on this site, take some time to e-mail (or... snail-mail/call/fax or yell at your friends and public officials. If your friends don't have internet access invite them over. Thanks for visiting this site. Any suggestions or questions are welcome... e-mail email@example.com
This site is maintained by R.C. Morton President ESCALERA INC. www.escalera.com
This site is dedicated to a sweet country girl named "Little Kim" who was chased from her home by the flood of 97 with only her baby and the clothes on her back. She didn't even have time to take her photo albums.
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