By Leigh Martinez

LATHROP (CBS13) — Two Central Valley cities are worried about flood protection if they miss a state deadline to improve a levee.

Houses and businesses are popping up in Lathrop and Manteca, but even in a drought, city officials worry a levee holding back the San Joaquin River can put them at risk of losing it all.

“There are 45,000 residents in this region and first and foremost we want to make sure they’re protected,” said Lathrop City Manager Stephen Salvatore.

But a flood may be less of a threat than an approaching deadline. The reclamation district 17 levee that stretches from Weston Ranch in Stockton through Lathrop and Manteca has undergone improvements to protest homes and Interstate 5 from flooding.

The federal government required a 100-year flood protection plan for a huge flood that has a 1 percent chance of happening. California wanted even more protection against a more rare, catastrophic flood.

The cities finished with the 100-year protection construction, and now the levee is ready for the state’s improvements. The cities have pledged one-third the cost, but there’s no word from the state about its $110 million share.

“We’ve been working with our legislators to tap into some funds that were approved by the voters for this reason. Prop 1E approved in 2006,” said Manteca City Manager Karen McLaughlin.

The levee needs to be completed by 2025, so the work needs to start next year.

The good news is, no one’s insurance goes up because the levee reaches the flood standards for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, it’s the state that wants the 200-year flood protection for this area.

If it doesn’t get done?

“Manteca and Lathrop have partnered together on numerous smart development for years and all of it basically stops.”

This means no new construction permits for houses and commercial properties. Companies like In-N-Out Burger and Tesla can’t expand and 6,000 houses and retail center already approved west of Interstate 5 can’t be built.


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