The Army Corps of Engineers is the lead agency for the Middle Creek Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration Project, which will reconnect Scotts and Middle Creek to historic wetland and floodplain areas by acquiring the “reclaimed" land and breaching the existing levee system to direct flows into the historically flooded area. It will provide significant water quality benefits and restore large areas of tule marshes and riparian habitat.
A Feasibility Study completed in 2003 determined that the most beneficial project alternative would be full restoration of the project area; the Corps approved the project in concept in 2004, and it was authorized by the Water Resources Development Act in November 2007. A few issues raised by the US Fish and Wildlife Service were resolved in 2012, clearing the way for approval of the Record of Decision, which must precede appropriations of funds for project design.
Where it stands
- Reduction of flood risk to structures, agricultural land, public roads and a major electric transmission line.
- Elimination of maintenance costs and potential emergency response costs related to the existing substandard levees
- Removal of up to 40 percent of the phosphorus entering Clear Lake through Scotts and Middle Creek, with potential reductions of chlorophyll, organic carbon and nitrogen
- Enhanced recreation and tourism because of improving water quality
- Restoration of up to 1400 acres of wetland habitat, a 79 percent increase over that currently existing
- Significantly improval of habitat for native fish, birds and wildlife, including several special status species
Where it stands
- With funding from the State of California, the county has begun acquiring properties from willing sellers in the project area, starting with residential parcels.
- The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has prepared a Clear Lake Wildlife Area Conceptual Area Protection Plan that includes acquisition of a all the property required for the project
- If no more satisfactory solution can be found, a ring levee will be constructed around Robinson Rancheria’s trust property in the project area
- The Watershed Protection District is developing partnerships to help provide the approximately 35 percent of project costs that federal agencies will not cover.