Bear River Setback Levee Project

American Region

Bear River Setback Levee Project

  • Location: Yuba and Sutter Counties
  • Project Sponsor: Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority
  • Timeframe: 2005–2006
  • Funding: $25,327,229 from California Proposition 13 Grants $36,521,228 from development impact fees and advances
  • Project Objectives:
    • Replace weakened levee with setback levee
    • Establish a stable, vegetated riverbank
    • Increase wildlife habitat

The Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority is working to improve levees on the Yuba, Feather, and Bear Rivers in the Sacramento Valley. The existing levees provide flood protection for approximately 16,000 acres of farms and urban land, including 25,000 current residents and 12,000 future households in the planned residential development of Plumas Lake.

In 2005, Three Rivers Levee Improvement Authority broke ground on the construction of the Bear River Setback levee, which was designed to replace an existing levee that was weakened by major structural deficiencies. The setback levee portion of the improvements is approximately 9,600 feet long and replaced portions of the Bear River and Feather River levees at the confluence of the two rivers. The old levees were removed and used for construction of the new setback levee.

Benefits of the setback levee range from public safety to environmental. The new levee has been designed to provide a 200-year level of flood protection; Yuba County will be the first urban area in the Central Valley to offer 200-year flood protection. In addition, a partnership with River Partners resulted in the planting of 1 million shrubs and trees in the setback area, which is critical to preventing erosion in the expanded floodway. Approximately 600 acres of wildlife habitat have been created, benefiting several threatened and endangered species, including Swainson’s hawk, yellowbilled cuckoo, valley elderberry longhorn beetle, and Chinook salmon.