For the people of Yuba County, reducing the risk of flooding was the single most important reason for the creation of the Yuba Water Agency. Since formation in 1959, the agency has led the local effort with state and federal agencies, Congress and others to increase public safety by reducing the risk of catastrophic flooding. The construction of New Bullards Bar Dam and Reservoir in 1970 was an essential step in the long-term and continuing effort to address this risk. This state-of-the-art facility is managed to contain a minimum of 170,000 acre-feet of flood flows at any time.
Yuba Water Agency also provides extensive technical, policy and financial support to local agencies in their effort to improve public safety. Through these efforts, Yuba Water Agency has committed well over $50 million to help leverage more than $450 million in state and federal funding for levee repairs and other work to minimize flooding in the area.
The Marysville Ring Levee Improvement project is a prime example of Yuba Water Agency’s work. In partnership with the Marysville Levee Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Water Resources and others, Yuba Water Agency has provided grants and worked closely with the federal government to secure funding for the continuing repairs to this 7.5-mile-long levee, which reduces flood risk for Marysville. When complete in 2021 or 2022, this reinforced levee will provide the city a 200-year level of protection, one of the highest levels for any city in Central California.
Yuba Water Agency is also partnering with the Department of Water Resources, National Weather Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on the Forecast-Coordinated Operations program – a modeling program to guide the most efficient use of the flood space at the State’s Oroville Dam and the agency’s New Bullards Bar Dam to monitor and limit peak flows from the Yuba and Feather rivers. This innovative program was successfully employed during the 2017 Oroville Dam crisis to reduce downstream flood risk.
Yuba County’s flood risk is largely due to the Gold Rush, when the discharge of debris from placer mines in Nevada County changed the course of rivers and streams, raised the riverbeds, and caused extensive historic flooding. Historically, the area has experienced the disruption of a major flood about once every 10 years.