Environmental Protection

Report Estimates Californians' Flood Risk

"What we found is that floods have the potential to affect just about everyone who lives in California," said Kim Carsell, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' lead planner for the assessment.

One in every five Californians lives in a flood plain, and nearly everyone living in California is at risk from flooding, according to a report on flood risk across the state that was developed by the California Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' South Pacific Division. "California's Flood Future: Recommendations for Managing California's Flood Risk" was released this month.

"What we found is that floods have the potential to affect just about everyone who lives in California," said Kim Carsell, the Corps' lead planner for the project. "Even if you're not flooded, things you depend on -- utilities, hospitals, the farms that grow your food -- could be. So a flood would still be a big problem for you and, really, for the nation."

The report says every one of California's 58 counties has had a major flood during the past 20 years, and more than $575 billion in infrastructure and $7 billion in crops are exposed to flooding.

The study team consulted 142 local agencies throughout the state to compile the data for the report, which was funded by the state of California. The state's lead planner for the report, Terri Wegener, said this is the opening phase of a long-term effort to reassess how the state manages flood risk and plans flood control projects.

"It is much smarter and more cost effective to reduce flood risk now than to spend billions of dollars trying to recover from a major flood," she said in a USACE news release.

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