The Sacramento River West Side Levee District (SRWSLD), acting as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lead agency and project proponent, has reviewed the proposed project described below to determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding that project implementation could have a significant effect on the environment. “Significant effect on the environment” means a substantial, or potentially substantial, adverse change in any of the physical conditions within the area affected by the project, including land use, air, water, minerals, flora, fauna, ambient noise, and objects of historic or aesthetic significance.
Name of Project: Sacramento River West Bank Seepage Mitigation Project, Levee Miles 3.41 to 6.45
Project Location: The proposed project is located along the landside toe of the Sacramento River west levee between levee miles 3.41 and 6.45, approximately 3 miles north of the community of Knights Landing in Yolo County, California. The right (west) bank of the Sacramento River in the project area is a Sacramento River Flood Control Project (SRFCP) levee. The entirety of the project area is on the landside of the levee.
Project Description: SRWSLD is proposing the Sacramento River West Bank Seepage Mitigation Project, Levee Miles 3.41 to 6.45 (proposed project) to construct approximately 3.25 miles of permanent drained seepage berm over several construction seasons along the landside toe of the Sacramento River west levee. The proposed project would be constructed in response to seepage that occurs periodically along the levee toe during high water events in the Sacramento River, as well as to prevent future seepage problems along the levee. The seepage berm would provide additional weight needed at locations where seepage has historically been observed. The additional weight and internal rock drainage layer would help to counteract and contain upward seepage forces from under-seepage during high water events.
If left unaddressed, seepage can lead to erosion of the landside levee toe and possibly levee failure. Drained seepage berms are landside earthen embankment structures that resist accumulated water pressure and safely release seeping water at the landside toe of the berm through an internal rock drainage layer.
The first 1.3 miles of berm would be constructed in 2018, with additional sections being constructed over the next 5-7 years as additional funding becomes available. Berm construction would occur between April 15 and November 1 in any given year, with the actual duration dependent on the length of berm to be constructed in each individual construction year. No known hazardous waste sites exist in the project area.
The Sacramento River West Side Levee District has completed the levee widening of 500 feet of the Sacramento River West Side Levee near Cecil Lake. The work was completed to combat seepage during flood events. The budget for the project is approximately $200,000. The project included constructing ramps up and down the levee, a water side levee toe road and widening the levee by approximately 8 feet. After the construction was completed, the levee top road was re-graveled. The Reclamation District No. 108 crew completed the maintenance on time and within budget. The photographs below show the site before the project and through construction.
|Before Construction||Loading Trucks|
|Building Ramps||Levee Toe Road|
|Widening the Levee||Widening the Levee Continued|
Reclamation District No. 108 has invested heavily into recycling infrastructure over the years. The unique topographic features of the district, mainly being completely surrounded by flood protection levee’s, allows all the irrigation drain water to be captured and can be either pumped back into the river or recycled within the district. The disadvantage of recycling is the accumulation of salts, which is why in normal years much of the water is pumped back into the river. However, in dry years recycling water is a priority and allows the district to fully farm with just a 75% supply. It is estimated that the district can recycle well over 50,000 AF of water in a normal year. In a drought year such as 2014, the amount of recycling can be significantly increased by reducing the water quality standards within the district.
The recycling facilities in RD 108 include:
Energy is a significant operating expense for RD 108. Water and recycled water enters and leaves the District through the pumping facilities along the Sacramento River. The District is very efficient in its water use and operates an extensive water recycling system that encompasses four pumping plants that recycle approximately 50,000 acre-feet annually with Sycamore Slough being the largest. Water draining from the fields is captured in the system and reapplied to the fields for irrigation.
The solar generation facility sits on seven acres adjacent to the Sycamore Slough Pump Station. The panels operate on a dual axis tracking system to follow the sun as it moves throughout the day to optimize energy production. The tracking system is also designed to meet minimum flood requirements by raising the solar panels 15 feet in the event of a flood.
The potential for cost savings first attracted the District to the solar project. As energy prices continue to rise, the solar facility provides affordable renewable energy for today and years to come. The money savings are passed along to the farmers in the District.
The project is part of a net energy metering program that allows the District to balance energy production and usage on an annual basis. PG&E calculates the amount of energy the District consumed and credits the District with the total amount of energy produced at the solar facility. At the end of the year, the District will only pay the difference from the amount of energy used and amount of energy produced.
The total project cost was $3.4 million, not including a $1.5 million rebate the District received for PG&E. The exact cost savings from the project will fluctuate with PG&E’s changing rates, but the District calculated that when the PG&E rates increase by 2.5 percent annually, the project will result in a 10 percent savings.
The solar generation facility produces clean renewable energy that reduces impacts to the environment. The solar facility continues the Reclamation District No. 108 commitment to serve its water users in a reliable, economic and environmentally sound manner.
Distribution canals in the Eastern area of the District are concrete lined with low volumes and high velocities, making them difficult to manage with flash board check structures. Prior to the project, approximately 10 cubic-feet per second of additional flow was required throughout the irrigation season in order to ensurer sufficient flows were delivered to the farm turnout.
Previously, an adjustable flash board structure was located slightly downstream of each farm turnout. In order to maintain a stable canal water surface elevation, every time the flow in the canal was changed, boards were added or removed. The benefit to installing Long Crested Weirs in place of adjustable flash board structures is that for cost fluctuations in canal flow rate, the change in water surface elevation at the turnout remains nearly constant. This provides a constant flow to the irrigated field. It also substantially reduces labor and the chance of human error.
The same characteristic of the Long Crested Weir that makes it useful in canals for water level control eliminates the weir as a measurement device. Therefore, the District was required to add measurement methods at key locations throughout the conveyance system.
Reclamation District No. 108 diverts irrigation water from the Sacramento River. In order to protect the fish populations in the Sacramento River, RD 108 was one of the first irrigation districts to invest and install a fish screen on its primary river diversions.
Wilkins Slough Pumping Plant and Fish Screen
The Wilkins Slough Positive Barrier Fish Screen culminates nearly 8 years of planning, agency coordination, testing alternative barriers, feasibility study, design and construction. The Wilkins Slough Positive Barrier Fish Screen was put into operation in March 1999 at the start of the irrigation season.
The objectives of the project were to make the Wilkins Slough Diversion “fish friendly,” minimize the impact of water diversions on winter-run chinook salmon and meet current resource agency criteria for fish protection facilities. A critical goal that was successfully met was to construct the fish screen structure without interrupting irrigation water deliveries or interfering with fish migrations in the Sacramento River.
Wilkins Slough Positive Barrier Fish Screen is one of the largest fish screening facilities in the Sacramento River Basin. The facility has a design flow capacity of 700 cubic feet per second but can accommodate flows up to 830 cubic feet per second. The structure is positioned along the right bank of the Sacramento River in front of the Wilkins Slough forebay. The screens are continuously cleaned by a single-arm mechanical brush mechanism that sweeps across the entire screen surface every 5 minutes.
Reclamation District No. 108 consolidated three of its river diversion pumping plants into a single facility with a state-of-the-art fish screen. The initial project investigation confirmed that it would be less costly to build a new combined pumping plant with a fish screen than to install separate fish screens on each of the three existing pumping plants. Further, it was determined that combining the three pumping plants would result in a lower water diversion requirement, thereby lessening the effects on protected fish species.