BOX 3.7

Levee Safety in California

California has a highly developed levee safety program. The Division of Water Management in the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) was established in 1977 and is divided into five offices responsible for forecasting, integrated environmental stewardship and flood management, design and construction of flood control projects, rehabilitation of California system levees, and operation and maintenance of federally constructed flood control structures.a The California FloodSAFE initiative, formulated in 2007, is aimed at more effective floodplain management, risk reduction, and development of a comprehensive, systemwide flood management plan for the Central Valley of California.

A major tenet of the FloodSAFE initiative is to require that building codes include flood damage-reduction measures for the estimated 200-year floodplain.b This applies to areas protected by facilities of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan where flood depths exceed 3 ft for the 200-year flood event (0.5 percent annual chance of flood). Code updates are planned in cycles and include such measures as requiring flood evacuation locations to be above the 200-year water-surface elevation, and requiring that flood vents be designed to reduce the potential for structural collapse (by reducing hydrostatic differential on walls).c FloodSAFE also includes preparation of 200-year flood inundation-area maps and flood information for owners and residents. The program is the focal point of the Division of Flood Management in the DWR. Resources in the DWR have been divided into seven "functional areas" as depicted in the figure to prepare for implementation of the program. Limited financial resources will be the major challenge for full implementation of FloodSAFE.


Organization and alignment of DWR resources to prepare for the implementation of the DWR FloodSAFE initiative. SOURCE: CA DWR (2012a).


aSee (accessed March 8, 2012).

bSee (accessed March 8, 2012).

cSee (accessed March 8, 2012).

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