SACRAMENTO, CA – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA), former Deputy Secretary of the Interior, delivered the keynote address at the annual Floodplain Management Association Conference. He encouraged hundreds of stakeholders, experts, and policy makers in attendance to take steps right now, even in a constrained budgetary climate, to prevent a flood and protect the public. He also encouraged them to redouble efforts in expressing the importance of federal funding. Conservative estimates of potential direct flood damages in the Sacramento region alone exceed $25 billion.
“The Sacramento region is at grave risk of a flood,” said Congressman John Garamendi. “We can pay now to prevent a disaster from occurring or we can pay substantially more once the destruction has come to our homes and businesses.”
Since FY10, the Army Corps budget has declined by 13% from $5.4 billion in FY10 to an estimated $4.7 billion in FY13. The Ryan Republican budget could result in an additional 18.5% cut to the Corps by 2017.
Rather than waiting on Congress, Garamendi urged stakeholders to keep an open line of communication with the Army Corps of Engineers, remain open to new scientific advances that can help us foresee flood risks, and continue to explore opportunities at the state level to avoid a halt in progress.
The Congressman also noted that flood management must adapt to meet local circumstances. Because of new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps, California farmers in floodplains are unable to build new structures at an affordable price. This is despite the fact that agriculture is the best and lowest risk use of the floodplain. Garamendi authored H.R. 6034, the bipartisan Agriculture Floodplain Management Act
, which calls for a study conducted by FEMA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in direct participation with local landowners, community leaders, and agriculture and insurance representatives, to evaluate the impacts of the National Flood Insurance Program’s building restrictions on small agriculture communities.
He is also the coauthor, with Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento, CA), of the Levee Vegetation Review Act, which would require the Corps to move to regional variances and to adapt levee vegetation policy to meet the needs of local communities.