Today, on the first day of the 113th Congress, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06) re-introduced the Natomas Basin Flood Protection Improvements Act and the Flood Protection Public Safety Act, both key pieces of legislation that would authorize the Natomas Levee Improvement Project (NLIP).
"Authorizing the Natomas levee project is crucial to Sacramento's flood protection effort and is my number one priority in Congress," said Congresswoman Matsui. "As we saw last year with Hurricane Sandy, flood protection cannot wait and that is why I am reintroducing this important legislation on Day One of the new Congress. The NLIP is critical to protecting thousands of Sacramento residents and billions of dollars of property and infrastructure. Congress cannot drag its feet any longer; lives, homes and businesses remain at risk and we must authorize this crucial project."
The Natomas Basin Flood Protection Improvement Act would authorize full federal participation in the NLIP, which will restore 100-year flood protection and ultimately achieve 200-year level flood protection. This legislation, which was authored in 2009 and in 2011, has in the past been caught in the House Republican earmark ban, an overly broad ban that blocks any legislation that authorizes or funds a specific project.
In an effort to move forward despite the House earmark ban, Congresswoman Matsui is reintroducing her Flood Protection Public Safety Act, legislation that would authorize construction of flood protection projects for which the Army Corps of Engineers has already submitted a Chiefs Report to Congress. This legislation would authorize several projects across the country, including the NLIP. This bill is not considered an earmark because it uses generic language to authorize public safety flood risk management projects recommended by the Corps.
In addition to the legislation authored by Congresswoman Matsui, a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) led by Senator Barbara Boxer offers an additional avenue to authorization of the NLIP. A draft WRDA in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works includes language that parallels Congresswoman Matsui's legislation that would authorize the NLIP.
"I am pleased that the Senate EPW Committee's draft WRDA includes language similar to my legislation, the Flood Protection Public Safety Act, that would authorize the NLIP. It is my sincere hope that the Senate will move its WRDA bill in an expedited manner. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Senators Boxer and Feinstein to support this legislation as it moves forward. I will also continue to urge my colleagues in the House to put forth a robust WRDA bill that includes the Natomas levee project. We simply cannot wait any longer."
The Sacramento region is the most at risk urban area to river flooding in the nation. Accordingly, the region has worked continuously to bolster its flood defenses and emergency preparations, and has invested millions of dollars of local, state, and federal funding to strengthen its levees (including $350 million of state and local funding already spent on the NLIP). Securing federal authorization for construction in Natomas is the next critical step.
"Flood protection is essential to the safety and economic vitality of our region, and it remains my number one priority in Congress. I will continue to work to see that our flood protection priorities receive the federal attention and funding they deserve," added Congresswoman Matsui.