Levee Funding Feasibility Study

The Delta Protection Commission completed a study in May 2018 that identified feasible financing options to pay for levee improvements and other methods of reducing flood risk in the Delta. The Study evaluated the potential of assessing a variety of entities with an interest in preventing Delta flooding to share in the capital investment and maintenance of Delta levees and recommended the most feasible procedures. The Factsheet (PDF) gives a brief summary of the project in downloadable format.

Study Objective

Even though the study determined that an assessment district was not feasible, it did support the Delta Plan recommendation that “the Legislature should create a flood risk management assessment district to provide adequate flood control protection and emergency response for the regional benefit of all beneficiaries, including landowners, infrastructure owners, and other entities that benefit from the maintenance and improvement of Delta levees, such as water users who rely on the levees to protect water quality.”(Delta Plan Chapter 7, Recommendation RR R2, emphasis added).

The study acknowledged that Delta levees serve far more beneficiaries than just those whose property is protected from flooding. Additional beneficiaries include owners and users of infrastructure, the statewide economy, and those who receive water from the Delta. The study did not recommend changing the existing funding programs or immediately implementing any of the feasible funding mechanisms. The study called for further in-depth analysis of the benefits to various beneficiaries, how such beneficiaries would contribute, and ways in which such a system could be administered.

The Study:

  • Considered the legal, institutional, financial, and political feasibility of each mechanism;
  • Identified the classes of relevant beneficiaries and their tangible and intangible assets (e.g., farms, pipelines, roads, through-Delta conveyance, etc.);
  • Characterized their level of benefit and ability to contribute financially (although these estimates will be of orders of magnitude); and
  • Described institutional and legal constraints that could influence their ability to make a fair and equitable payment.

To move forward to implementation, the State will need to obtain more precise and comprehensive information, and the Legislature will need to consider the various policy options that the feasibility study generated.

Feasibility Study Documents

The Delta Flood Risk Management Assessment District Feasibility Study was developed in collaboration with State agencies, local reclamation districts, Delta landowners and businesses, and other stakeholders. Beginning in 2016 and continuing to the transmittal of the final consultant report in 2018, the Commission’s activities included: