Levee Fixes In Calif. Leads To More Building, Risk

Published February 18, 2012 3:54PM (EST)

LATHROP, Calif. (AP) — In Lathrop, a small community that mushroomed on a floodplain in California's Central Valley, levee repairs are paving way for thousands more homes.

The repairs are funded largely by $5 billion in state voter-approved flood control bonds.

An AP analysis of the $3 billion spent so far shows the largest expenditures have focused on improving levees in flood-prone areas where development recently occurred and where much more growth is planned.

Critics say this is a poor way to spend flood control dollars, because encouraging new development in floodplains puts more people and property at risk. And higher risk means ever-escalating demands for levee repairs.

State water officials say they have little power over local land use decisions and are spending the bond money to protect existing communities.

By Salon Staff

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