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Native American Remains Delay Vacaville Flood Diversion Project

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VACAVILLE (CBS13) – Vacaville has suffered 12 floods in the last five decades, but the city’s latest effort to stop any further damage and protect its citizens is in jeopardy.

“It looked like a river, literally. It was from our front door across from the neighbors’ front door,” said Vacaville resident Ross Riesche.

A flood damaged Ross and Mary Riesche’s home and cars in 2005. In total, that storm caused $26 million in damage.

“There’s no place for the water to go,” said Mary.

Assistant Director of Public Works Shawn Cunningham says the future is uncertain for their latest flood control project.

The plan is to divert water away from peoples’ homes during big storms.

The city spent nearly $4 million purchasing a plum orchard to build a flood basin up to 25 feet deep.

Now the entire $12 million project is on indefinite hold due to the discovery of Native American remains buried underground.

“A possibility is that we cannot proceed, but certainly this basin would go a long way towards helping our flooding problem in Vacaville,” said Cunningham.

The delay means the project will no longer meet FEMA’s June 2014 deadline and putting federal funding at risk.

Ross and Mary worry another storm could pour in before construction ever gets back on track.

“We need it. These people all around here need it, otherwise we are going to be moving mud again,” said Ross.

The Native American tribe says this find is of a significant cultural discovery. So the city is working with them to either remove the remains or try to work around the burial site.

The city says flood detention have proven effective on other creeks in the past.

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