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Davis, California

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Yolo County prepares for El Niño floods

CIERA PASTUREL / AGGIE
CIERA PASTUREL / AGGIE

High levels of rainfall leave many wondering if Davis is flood ready

Yolo county has evaluated its flood prevention measures to prepare for the expected El Niño, a weather cycle that brings changes in wind patterns and increased rainfall. In the past few weeks, Davis and the surrounding areas have been bombarded with significant downpours, which could result in future flooding if heavy rain persists.

“We’ve been in a drought for such a long time.  It’s very unexpected to have this much rain in such a short period of time,” said Davis resident, Alex Christopher. “I’m happy because it’s going to help with the water supply, but I don’t think we’re prepared for a serious flood situation, simply because it hasn’t happened in a long time.”

On average, Davis accrues about 21 inches of rain annually and flooding has never been an issue for the city.

“We have a preventative maintenance plan of our drainage system for flood preparedness in place throughout the year,” said Dave Rodriguez, collection systems supervisor from the Davis Public Works Department. “There are over 3,000 drain inlets, 19 drainage pump stations and 15 miles of storm water drainage channels that are inspected, maintained and monitored weekly. Our staff attends weekly safety meetings and receives continuous training to be prepared in case of an event like El Niño.”

In the past, the month of January rarely pulls more than 2 inches of rain. For 2016, the city already received 3.5 inches of rain this month.

“It hasn’t been like this in a long time,” said Amanda Bradley, a Dixon resident. “Last time I remember so much rain, it was back in the late 80s. One year I remember it would go a good two weeks with nonstop storms.”

In terms of the water supply, the recent influx of rain will be helpful, but definitely not a solution to California’s current drought. A recent report by Capital Public Radio stated that despite the surge of water that has hit the Sacramento area, the water supply is still around 65 percent of the ideal level.

Woodland resident Carlos Espinoza believes that, although flooding is a concern, it is overshadowed by the pressures of the already existent drought.

“I don’t think flooding should be our main concern,” Espinoza said. “I’m happy we’re getting rain and I hope it keeps coming. It’s scary thinking about the drought we’re experiencing and I can only hope the rain we are receiving will lessen the pressures from it.”

The UC Davis Department of Land, Air and Water Resources (DLAWR) website states that the key to harnessing the rainfall is within the California farmlands. Farmers across the area are digging ditches and wells in the hopes of collecting and using the water from rains that are anticipated to continue.

DLAWR also stated that collecting rainfall in farmlands will significantly reduce the risk of downstream floods. In essence, the solution to potential flooding will also improve California drought conditions.

Written By: Tristen Thalhuber city@theaggie.org

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