CHICO — Butte County Public Works is looking to conduct a new flood study in the area of Rock Creek and Keefer Slough just north of Chico.
The area has historically been prone to flooding during hard rainfall which has created hazardous conditions on both Highways 99 and 32 as well as causing damage to buildings such as homes and businesses.
A virtual presentation was held Thursday evening to break down what the study would focus on and the possible solutions it could bring to the table. County employees on the project were joined by outside representatives from engineering firm Wood Rodgers as well as the Environmental Science Association.
Leading the presentation was Project Manager Jessica Hankins with guest speakers Butte County Assistant Engineer Sam Cromwell, Supervisor Debra Lucero, Study Lead Mike Nowlan, Bifurcation Designer Jonathan Kors, Multi-Objective Flood Program Manager John Pritchard and ESA Director Eric Ginney.
The currently underway study wouldn’t be the first time a study has been conducted on Rock Creek because of flooding. In 1996, an Army Corps of Engineers study was conducted. Hankins said conditions have since changed, thus requiring a new study.
“It’s true that there have been a number of studies done on this watershed already,” Hankins said. “The county is aware of those studies but the reason for this one, there are several reasons actually, but the main one is to get the most protection we need to get the evolving flood channel conditions.”
In recent years, more than 200 single-family residences, businesses and farms have been affected by severe flooding, according to the presentation.
Within the related project summary on the county’s website is a list of goals that are hoped to be accomplished with the study including identifying flood causation, evaluating options for flood protection, finding alternatives and assessing flood emergency response capabilities.
“The broad goals of the Rock Creek Flood Study will be to evaluate alternatives for providing watershed residents with a 100-year level of flood protection,” The project description said. “These goals also provide opportunities to improve aquatic and terrestrial habitat along Rock Creek and Keefer Slough, while also being sensitive to the needs and values of the local landowners.”
Should the county go forward on the flood study project, clear goals, objectives and constraints will need to be laid out. Current conditions, problems and opportunities will also need to be clearly defined.
In addition to preparing for the study, the county is asking that residents and landowners provide as much input as possible.
As part of the presentation, landowners in the area were asked to submit flooding experiences and information along with photos with the time of day, date and location to www.buttecounty.net/publicworks/Flood_water_project.
“From our perspective, any information we get we need to place it in context and if we have a photo and we don’t know when it happened it doesn’t allow us to put it into the timeline of when rainfall happened, flooding happened in the main watershed where we can compare it with our modeling and see if our modeling is producing the same result of what the photos showed,” Ginney said of why the additional photo information is important.
Those who want updates and notifications can ask to be added to the mailing list by contacting Hankins at email@example.com.
An in-person meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at Nord Country School that will share the same information shared in the virtual presentation. Additional meetings will be held in December 2021 to seek input, March and April 2022 to refine project alternatives and June 2022 for presenting a comparative analysis of each alternative.