Frustrated Residents Rally to Prevent Flood Devastation

State to be Held Liable for Levee Failure
Friday, June 23, 2017

Please click here to view video footage of Senator Nielsen.

Please click here to view video footage of Assemblyman Gallagher.

YUBA CITY – Today, hundreds of North State residents held a rally urging the Governor and state leaders to prioritize funding for flood control.

Levees in the North State and throughout California’s water conveyance system were damaged during the recent high water events and Oroville Dam spillway crisis. Yet calls for state funding to initiate timely repairs have been rejected.

“Today, we put the State of California on notice,” said Stan Cleveland, Mayor of Yuba City. “Either free up funding to make these levee repairs or our residents will hold the state liable if and when disaster strikes.”

Earlier this year, Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), Assemblymember James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) led a bi-partisan coalition of diverse water interests in requesting an annual $100 million investment from the state budget to finance urgent flood control needs. Governor Jerry Brown and the majority party in the State Legislature denied the funding request.

“The lives of my constituents and people throughout California's watershed should be a priority in the budget,” said Gallagher. “This is a wakeup call for the Governor and his administration that we are not going to sit back quietly while he gambles with the safety of California residents.”

Senator Jim Nielsen echoed these remarks “Levees are a critical part of California’s infrastructure like our roads. Their repair must be prioritized to protect lives and properties,” said Nielsen.

According to the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency (SBFCA), $25 million is required immediately to repair one section of levee that protects 70,000 Yuba City residents. Experts have determined that this damaged 3-mile stretch must be fixed before the next flood season in order to prevent a levee failure and protect $300 million in existing state/local flood control investments.

The State of California bears liability for avoidable catastrophic damage as a result of levee repairs. In 1986, a levee failure in Yuba County destroyed nearly 3,000 buildings and killed two people. After years of litigation, the state was found liable and paid $464 million in damages to Yuba County.

The Paterno v. California case held the state responsible for the integrity of the Central Valley flood control system, which includes 1,600 miles of levees that protect 500,000 people and 200,000 structures.


Senator Jim Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at Follow him on Twitter

James Gallagher, the Assembly Republican Caucus chairman, represents the 3rd Assembly District, which encompasses all of Glenn, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba counties as well as portions of Butte and Colusa counties.