For the people of Yuba County, reducing the risk of flooding was the single most important reason for the creation of the Yuba County Water Agency in 1959. Since YCWA’s formation, 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 in Yuba County. The construction of New Bullards Bar Dam and Reservoir in 1970 was an essential step in the long-term plan to address this risk. This state-of-the-art dam is managed to hold back a minimum of 170,000 acre-feet of flood flows at any time. YCWA is also involved in providing technical, policy and financial support to local cities and reclamation districts in their effort to improve public safety. Through these efforts, YCWA has committed over $50 million to leverage 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 and is currently entering its final stages with the possibility of being finished in 2020 or 2021. The 7.5 mile, reinforced levee will surround the City of Marysville, and will offer a 200-year level of protection, one of the highest levels of protection for any city in Central California.
YCWA 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 of California’s Oroville Dam and New Bullards Bar Dam to monitor and limit peak flows from the Yuba and Feather Rivers.
Dating to the Gold Rush, the discharge of debris from placer mines in Nevada County has compounded Yuba County’s flood risk. All of the debris from hydraulic mining operations has changed the course of rivers and streams, raised the riverbeds, and caused extensive historic flooding. Historically, the Marysville and Yuba City area has experienced the disruption of a major flood about once every 10 years.