San Lorenzo River Flood Control and Restoration Improvement Project

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Since 1978, the City of Santa Cruz has been working on improving the flood capacity of the San Lorenzo River levees, costing them $1.1 million with an additional $20 million funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers [1]. The improvements include raising the height of the levee from one to five feet, depending on location, and restore the riparian habitat along with levees. Since the first phase of levee improvements enabled increased flood protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has granted the project a A-99 flood zone designation. The primary goal of the project is reduce potential damage within the City's 100-year floodplain which include 1600 parcels and are estimated to cost $86 million if damaged [1].

Project Phases

Phases and funding for the project include:

  • Phase 1
    • Began in August, 1999.
    • $4.8 million in the Fiscal Year 2000 federal budget
    • Includes section from Highway 1 to Water Street and Soquel Avenue Bridge to Riverside Bridge
  • Phase 2
    • Began in the fall of 2000
    • State Legislature in 2000 authorized State assistance to the project, covering a large percentage of the City's required share of the Corps' potion of the project.
    • Includes replacement of the Riverside Avenue Bridge, the northern two lanes of Water Street Bridge, the SOquel Avenue Bridge, and retrofit of the Broadway/Laurel Bridge. All new structures allow a less obstructed flow of flow waters.
  • Phase 3
    • Laurel Street Extension/Third Street Riverbank Stabilization through construction of a natural rock form wall along this section of the river. Vegetation will be planted along toe of this wall, providing additional habitat for wildlife.
    • Cost $6.2 million after federal and state assistance of $120,000


  1. 1.0 1.1 City of Santa Cruz Management Utility


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