Middle Creek Flood Control Project
The Lake County Watershed Protection District (District), formerly known as the Lake County Watershed Protection District, operates and maintains the Middle Creek Flood Control Project (Project) in Upper Lake. The project consists of a system of 14.4 miles of levees, a pump station and a diversion channel to divert Clover Creek overflow around the town of Upper Lake, see map. The upper portion of the project protects the community of Upper Lake from flooding by Middle Creek and Clover Creek. The lower portion of the system protects farmland and some residences from inundation by Clear Lake.
The efforts to control flooding in the Upper Lake area date from the early part of this century. Levees to reclaim lakebed for agricultural use date from around the 1920's in the area commonly known as the Reclamation Area. Efforts to protect the community of Upper Lake began in 1954 with Congress authorizing a federal flood control project. It is known as the Middle Creek Flood Control Project. The Corps of Engineers constructed the project starting in 1958. The levees upstream of the Middle-Scotts Cr confluence were constructed between 1959 and 1961 in substantial accordance with the design plans. After several failures in the construction of the levees in the Reclamation Area and application of some emergency measures during construction, the project was completed in 1966. The completed levees were not in accordance with normally accepted engineering standards at the time. The State conditionally accepted the levees in the Reclamation Area into the project.
Clover Diversion Channel
In 1960, the Lake County Flood Control and Water Conservation District and the State Reclamation Board entered into an agreement to provide routine maintenance, flood fighting and levee patrolling. Maintenance of the creek channel improvements was performed by the State until 1996. In April of 1996 DWR informed the District that they would no longer maintain the channel improvements and Clover Creek in accordance with the 1960 agreement.
In 1999, a vote was held to create a Special Benefit Assessment to pay full cost of the O&M of the Project. There were two benefit zones:
- The Upper Basin was to pay for O&M of the levees and channels upstream of the Middle-Scotts Cr confluence. These levees primarily protect Upper Lake and surrounding areas from stream flooding. These levees were properly constructed and provide a reasonable level of protection. The Upper Basin Benefit Assessment passed, and these levees continue to be operated and maintained by the District. O&M funding is collected with the property tax and is placed in the District Zone 8 budget (8108).
- The Lower Basin was to pay for O&M for the levees downstream of the Middle-Scotts Cr confluence. These levees protect the Reclamation Area from lake flooding. These levees are of substandard construction and are estimated to provide protection form a 25% annual chance flood (4-year flood). The Lower Basin Benefit Assessment did not pass and the O&M was relinquished to the State. O&M is now performed in State Maintenance Area No. 17 (MA-17) by the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR). O&M funding is collected with the property tax within MA-17 and provided to the State.
The levees and channels in the Upper Basin are maintained by the District. O&M activities include:
- Levee patrolling, especially during and after high water events,
- Emergency flood fights as needed,
- Mowing of grasses,
- Control of weeds with herbicides,
- Removal of excess woody growth (trees and bushes) within the levee easements,
- Maintenance of levee roads,
- Removal and trimming of trees and brush within the creek’s active channel area, and
- Periodic removal of sediment deposits.
The Reclamation Area (MA-17) has been proposed to be restored to a functional part of Clear Lake through the Middle Creek Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration Project. An overview of the Restoration Project is available here. The District has begun property acquisition utilizing Flood Protection Corridor Program (FPCP) grant funds from the CDWR to acquire property. A description of the FPCP) project and status report is available here.
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Updated: March 26, 2015