Gov. Brown Announces $437 Million Flood Control Plan

SACRAMENTO -- Two weeks after the Oroville Dam Emergency, Governor Jerry Brown unveiled a plan to strengthen the state's dam security, flood prevention and general infrastructure, calling for hundreds of millions of dollars for the effort.

"These recent storms have had a real impact. We've got dam spillways eroding. We've got roads crumbling,” said Brown at a press conference at the capitol. “There's so many dams and channels and spillways, it's a very sophisticated task to keep it all going right. With that level of complexity, you can always have failures.”

Governor Brown’s plan would use $437 million for flood control, fixing older dams and levees. That money includes $50 million from the general fund, and $387 million from funds allocated as a result of Proposition 1, which passed in 2014.

In addition, the plan calls for improving evacuation plans and dam inspections. However, what that will look like exactly is unclear at this point, according to Bill Croyle, the acting director with the Department of Water Resources.

"It could be a whole combination of things," Croyle said. "It's how we do it, different technologies or tracking of those systems. More inspection."

Long term, the governor says California's about $187 billion behind on its infrastructure needs across the state.

As for the nearly 200,000 people evacuated because of the spillway emergency, Governor Brown held back from placing any blame.

"We have a very expert Department of Water Resources. It's one of the best in the country," Brown said. "And will they be perfect? No.”

In 2005 four environmental groups, including the Sierra Club California, filed a federal motion to have the Oroville Emergency Spillway reinforced with concrete, fearing if it were used, it would erode the hillside which supports it, cause mass flooding and lead to large scale evacuations. When that scenario played out Feb. 12, Karen Phillips, director of the Sierra Club, said she was deeply saddened.

“There are times when you don't want to be right. This is one of them,” Phillips said.

She was unhappy the governor immediately came to the defense of the Department of Water Resources.

"It sounded like the governor was side-stepping any opportunity to suggest that maybe the Department of Water Resources needed to be held accountable,” Phillips said.

Governor Brown made very clear that despite the state's need to fix the existing infrastructure, he'll continue to push for new high-cost infrastructure projects like the high speed rail and the Delta tunnels.

"I don't think you have a great country or great state unless you invest tens of billions, even hundreds of billions, in the core material,” Brown said.

Friday morning, the Governor submitted requests for more federal funding to members of the Trump administration in regard to ten specific projects, including high speed rail and improvements to the Oroville Dam. Brown made the request despite clashes between lawmakers in California and President Trump on issues like immigration and sanctuary city protection to undocumented immigrants.

"There are many policies in Washington that many people in California don't agree with, myself included," Brown said. "We have to walk a very thoughtful line here seeking help we need. But also calling attention to things we object to."