What can you do?
Maintaining flow capacity in streams that cross your property requires your cooperation and assistance to prevent flooding and bank erosion. In most cases in Lake County, the ownership and maintenance of streams and drainages is the responsibility of the individual property owner. Construction in floodplains must be to minimum standards to reduce the possibility of flood damage and increase in floodwater depths.
Here is how you can help:
Do not dump or throw anything into ditches or streams: Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels. A plugged channel cannot carry water, and when it rains, the excess water must go somewhere. Every piece of trash contributes to flooding. Trash and vegetation dumped in our streams degrades water quality in the stream and in the receiving waters, such as Clear Lake.
Remove debris, such as trash, loose branches, and vegetation growing in the stream channel: If you own property next to a ditch or stream, please do your part to maintain flow capacity. Remove vegetation growing on the stream bottom. Vegetation growing on the stream banks should not be removed completely since it reduces erosion by holding the banks in place with its roots, and has little effect on the channel flow capacity. Prior to removing vegetation, call the Department of Fish and Game at (916)358-2900 to determine whether an agreement is required. If you see dumping of debris in ditches or streams, contact the Lake County Community Development Department, Code Compliance at (707)263-2309. Dumping in our ditches and streams is a violation of Section 9-3 of the Lake County Code.
Obtain a building permit, if required: To minimize damage to buildings during flood events, the County requires all new construction in flood plains to be anchored against movement by floodwaters, resistant to flood forces, constructed of flood resistant materials, flood-proofed or elevated so the enclosed space is a minimum of one foot above the level of the 100-year flood, with all utilities constructed to be resistant to flood damage. This includes new buildings, additions and substantial improvement of existing buildings. The NFIP defines substantial improvement as any reconstruction, rehabilitation, or addition to a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the structure's market value before the start of construction of the improvement.
Check with the Lake County Community Development Department, Building and Safety Division, before you build, alter, grade or place fill on your property. These actions could cause drainage problems on other properties. Section 5-22 of the County Code prohibits property owners from changing the course of any channel or waterway in any manner that would change its place of entry or exit from the property. Section 5-22 also prohibits property owners from creating flooding problems on adjacent properties. If you see building or filling that does not appear to comply with these requirements, please contact the Building and Safety Division at (707)263-2382.
Recognize the natural and beneficial functions of flood plains to help reduce flooding: Flood plains are a natural part of the Lake County environment. By understanding and protecting the natural functions of our flood plains you can help reduce flood damage and protect resources. When the flood spreads out across the flood plain, its energy is dissipated, resulting in lower flood flows downstream, reduced erosion of the streambank and channel, deposition of sediments higher in the watershed and improved ground-water recharge. Flood plains are scenic, valued wildlife habitat, and suitable for farming. Poorly planned development in flood plains has led to streambank erosion, loss of valuable property, degradation of water quality in Clear Lake with an increase in nuisance blue-green algae blooms, channel down-cutting that reduces available groundwater supplies, and increased flooding of downstream properties.
Reduce the risk of damage to your home: If your home has been flooded in the past, there are practical and cost-effective methods for reducing or eliminating the risk of a house being flooded again. Methods include elevating the home, relocating to higher ground, constructing floodwalls or berms, flood proofing, and protection of utilities.
Be Prepared:Stock emergency supplies and be prepared to turn off utilities when it floods. The First Aid and Survival Guide in the front of the telephone book has important guidelines. Many of the things that apply to earthquake readiness also apply to flood readiness.
Please help protect and restore Lake County’s floodplains by taking part in wise development and management.
Water Resources Engineer
Lake County Water Resources Department
255 N Forbes Street
Lakeport, CA 95453
January 3, 2013