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San Luis Obispo County gears up for floods

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SLO County water officials need a temporary patch job to keep the Arroyo Grande Creek from flooding.

The existing levee management and flood protection plans for the creek have expired, and while long-term plans are in place, the county has a temporary emergency plan to hopefully prevent the creek from flooding in the coming rainy season—or at least limit the severity if there is a flood.

County supervisors on Dec. 1 unanimously approved a $65,000 plan to strengthen three areas of the levee on the creek channel. The creek flooded in 2001 due to a levee breach on the south side, according to Public Works officials, including Utilities Division Manager Dean Benedix.

“We are not gaining any ground in the capacity of that channel,” Benedix told supervisors.

Vegetation and sediment have slowly but surely clogged the creek, he explained, and clearing anything is difficult because of environmental protections on waterways.

“So we are losing ground here every year,” he summed up.

The temporary plan—Benedix said it’s not quite experimental, but still a kind of trial solution—is to strengthen three areas of southern-facing levee with sandbags and other temporary measures that should keep the levee from completely eroding if water overflows the top. There are also environmental documents in the works to prepare 10-year or 20-year flood-protection measures, depending on how extensive the plan becomes, according to a staff report.

Maintenance of the channel was dictated by a 1959 agreement. Supervisors also canceled that agreement, though it won’t affect the county’s ability to address flooding issues, officials said.

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