A group of local elected officials gathered Friday near a section of the Pajaro levee to discuss ongoing work to strengthen the levee in advance of winter.
Next year, work crews will kick off a $400 million project to rebuild the levees in South Santa Cruz and North Monterey counties to keep the rivers and creeks from escaping and devastating the surrounding communities.
That long-anticipated work will be a relief to the people who live there, as well as the farmers and businesses that operate in the area, all of whom endured numerous floods in the past seven decades since the levee system was built.
But until that work commences, officials in both counties are shoring up three weak spots along the 12-mile-long levee system that broke during recent winter storms in March. That work is expected to wrap up in November.
“Now we have a real opportunity to go forward and really address this levee and address this flooding,” Monterey County Supervisor Glenn Church said. “This is going to be the beginning of an opportunity to make a better, stronger, more resilient levee.”
The repair project will cost $20 million and is funded through the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Acts of 2022 and 2023.
Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo said that the ongoing work took cooperation from multiple agencies. It was also helped along by state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom, who are helping to ease regulatory requirements such as environmental review that would delay the project.
“All these actions demonstrate that there is a strong commitment that we will translate into action to get the levee project done once and for all,” Alejo said.