Flood campaign picking up steam
Article Launched:02/15/2007 12:08:42 AM PST
THE PROGRESS on flood control efforts in the Ross Valley is encouraging.
We commend the Fairfax Town Council for voting to rejoin Flood Zone 9,
the district that will orchestrate the major projects needed to
significantly reduce the risk of major flooding in the Ross Valley.
Fairfax leaders were concerned about not having final say over projects
in Fairfax, but ultimately decided the town needed to be part of this
That was the right thing to do. It also reinforces the message that
this important issue is regional in scope.
San Anselmo, Ross, Larkspur, Greenbrae and Kentfield also are part of
the flood district and have agreed to participate without having veto
power over their areas. All will have a say in what flood control
measures are proposed and ultimately approved.
The other promising development was a study that identified the worst
bottlenecks on Corte Madera Creek.
Engineering consultants used a hydraulic computer model of the
watershed to pinpoint the culprits. The usual flooding suspects made
the list, including two Ross sites, the Lagunitas Road Bridge and the
nearby wooden fish ladder. The spots were joined at the top of the list
by the Madrone Avenue Bridge in San Anselmo.
Some officials were surprised by how big a bottleneck the fish ladder
creates. There are now plans to replace the fish ladder. The Army Corps
of Engineers is waiting for recommendations from one of the
environmental groups involved in the discussions, the Friends of Corte
This is the kind of solid information that will help build the
consensus crucial to real solutions. Supervisor Hal Brown was right
when he pointed out that the study's findings will play a key role in
deciding how taxpayer money will be spent.
Brown deserves credit for keeping this issue moving forward. That
momentum is essential because the county and the flood control district
plan to ask Ross Valley voters to approve a new storm drainage fee,
which could be on the April ballot.
Most property owners would be asked to pay an average of $125 a year
for 20 years, with some paying a maximum of $180. The fee will vary,
depending on the size of the lot and the amount of impervious surfaces
on the property.
If all cities and agencies involved can put past differences aside and
work together on regional solutions to flooding, voters are far more
likely to vote "yes."
The flooding the morning of New Year's Eve in 2005 damaged 1,200 homes
and businesses in the county, with most along Corte Madera Creek in the
The periods of heavy rain this week were a pointed reminder of how
vulnerable the Ross Valley is - and how much work remains to be done.