California Representatives Grace F. Napolitano and Linda T. Sánchez announced that the FY2021 Energy and Water Appropriations bill is providing $384.9 million as part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dam Safety and Seepage Program.
Whittier Narrows Dam and Reservoir is a flood control and water conservation project completed in 1957 at the confluence of the San Gabriel River and Rio Hondo in California. The Corps is proposing risk-management plans to reduce the potential for and consequences of catastrophic flooding resulting from failure of the Whittier Narrows Dam during very rare flood events. These risk-management plans include structural modifications to the dam to eliminate or minimize the potential for the dam to fail as a result of overtopping or seepage.
“Since first learning about flood risk concerns over a decade ago, I have encouraged the Army Corps of Engineers and my colleagues in Congress to make Whittier Narrows Dam the top budgetary priority,” Napolitano said. “In March I hosted Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Marcy Kaptur, Congresswoman Sánchez, Congresswoman Judy Chu, eleven additional members of Congress, and Assistant Secretary of the Army—Civil Works, RD James, at the dam for a tour and roundtable discussion with local stakeholders. I would like to thank Chairwoman Kaptur and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey for recognizing the importance of Whittier Narrows Dam as one of the most significant flood control projects in the country with the funding to back it. I will continue to fight alongside the appropriators, Congresswoman Sánchez, and all of our colleagues to deliver these federal dollars to complete the vital dam safety project, on behalf of all San Gabriel Valley residents and millions more throughout the region.
Napolitano is Chairwoman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, which has jurisdiction over the Corps. Napolitano held a Congressional roundtable and tour of Whittier Narrows Dam on March 6 as her Subcommittee continued preparations for a biennial Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
“If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that we cannot control nature. All we can do is be prepared,” said Rep. Sánchez. “I’m so pleased that today’s Energy and Water Appropriations bill fully funds the Whittier Narrows Dam safety construction. This is one of the most critical dam safety projects in the country. When it’s completed, more than one million residents in Los Angeles County will be protected from catastrophic flooding, including the cities of Pico Rivera, Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, La Palma, Lakewood, Montebello, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, and Whittier.”
At the beginning of 2020, Napolitano and Sánchez, who represents the City of Pico Rivera — where the dam is located — along with several adjacent cities, spearheaded a letter with other local Representatives to House Appropriators requesting $384.9 million, the amount approved by the Committee, which is projected to complete the critical safety repair project at Whittier Narrows Dam.
“This dam safety work is needed not only for proper flood control for our area, but also for water supply operations,” Napolitano added. “The drought is not over, and Whittier Narrows is an extremely important water supply facility for our region as water is captured during storm events and channeled to local spreading basins for recharge into the groundwater basin. These aquifers have been depleted by recent droughts in Southern California, so the water captured at Whittier Narrows for groundwater replenishment is a vital source of water for our communities.”