Representative Huffman Requests Funding for Flood Control and Dredging for Marin County

Rep. Huffman requests funding for Marin flood control, dredging

Rep. Jared Huffman has requested federal funding for flood control at Corte Madera Creek and dredging of the San Rafael Canal.

In a letter sent Wednesday to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Huffman asked that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ projects within his district receive financial backing.

For the Corte Madera Creek flood control project, Huffman called for $500,000 to be included in the 2016 Army Corps’ work plan and for an additional $600,000 to be included in the fiscal year 2017 budget request. The project is a critical component to the larger Ross Valley Flood Protection and Watershed program, which is a community effort to address flooding in the Ross Valley. The project will largely improve flood control and prevent the destruction that came with the 2005-06 winter storms, Huffman said.

“These storms resulted in approximately $100 million in damage, affecting over 240 homes, 75 retail and commercial structures, two elementary schools, the College of Marin campus, two post offices, the Ross Town Hall, and police and firehouses in the towns of Ross, San Anselmo, and Fairfax,” Huffman’s letter states.

The Army Corps received $400,000 for the project within its fiscal year 2015 work plan, which went toward the environmental review and an alternatives evaluation for the last portion of a total four-unit project. The first three units of the project were completed by 1971, according to the county. The last unit consists of creek enhancements to improve flow conveyance and fish passage, removal of flow constrictions and improvements to the concrete channel.

Christopher Martin, who sits on Marin’s Flood Control Zone No. Nine Advisory Board, said the Ross Valley has had a history of flooding that stems back to the 1890s and the flood control project dates back to 1962. The project’s completion is long overdue, he said.

“I’m grateful,” he said. “(Huffman) has been committed to flood control, as has Supervisor (Katie) Rice. The two of them have been working in concert. He’s been here, the congressman, when we had flood conditions, trying to lend support to the people impacted,” Martin said. “We’re very grateful for his leadership, as well as Supervisor Rice. This is a project that’s long overdue and critical to the Ross Valley Flood Control project.”

Funding has also been requested for dredging of north coast waterways that include the San Rafael Canal. The specific funding amount was not requested for dredging, as Huffman is just calling for canal dredging to be included in the Army Corps’ work plan, according to the communications director for the congressman.

Under federal guidelines, the San Rafael Canal should be at least six-feet deep at low tide, but silt buildup has grown so high that when the tide is low, only 2 feet of water remains in some areas, according to members of Friends of the Canal — a group that works at protecting the integrity of the waterway.

The last clearing of the canal was done in 2011 and only covered a portion of the area because of toxic waste. The remaining area was dredged only 5 feet. The last complete dredging before then was conducted in 2002.

The Friends of the Canal has attended multiple meetings held by Huffman in the last six to eight months in an effort to get the canal cleaned, said Bryon Bass, the coalition leader. He said he’s hopeful the funding will come soon for dredging.

“It’s very positive that Huffman’s office is requesting the funds,” Bass said. “Friends of the Canal has been working with various groups including Huffman’s office, the city of San Rafael, county of Marin and outlining the dire consequences of not dredging the canal and keeping it maintained.”

San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips said both he and Huffman have talked about the urgency of the project.

“It’ll be a constraining factor for boats coming up and down the canal and for the watershed if El Niño hits, because it acts as watershed,” Phillips said. “I’m not terribly surprised, but it’s good news.”

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