Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger has asked the US Department of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff for assistance in obtaining a federal emergency declaration to fix the state’s eroded levees.

Governor Schwarzenegger stated that with federal assistance, California can reduce the time it would take to repair its damaged levees from three years to one – getting critical repairs underway before the next flood season.

Last week, the state Assembly passed a US$4.15B bond for flood control to repair and maintain levees and improve the flood control systems in the state, including:

• At least US$1B for levee evaluation and repair.

• At least US$1B for flood control system improvements (funds to reach a goal of 200 year flood protection for urban areas).

• At least US$400M for Delta levee subventions and other projects (funds in this section can be used for special flood control projects in the Delta as well as the Delta Levee Maintenance Subventions programme).

• At least US$700M for flood control subventions.

• At least US$300M for flood protection corridor and bypasses, for the creation of new levees and the construction and preservation of setback levees and flood corridors and bypasses.

• At least US$90M for flood plain mapping, to complete flood hazard maps and floodplain mapping necessary to make proper flood infrastructure investments.

• At least US$500M for storm water flood management.

A state emergency was declared in California on 24 February, freeing up US$100M from the state’s budget reserves for levees repair.