New Housing Proposed in California Delta Floodplain Called "Indefensible"

Old Sugar Mill Plan in Clarksburg, CA, appealed to Delta Protection Commission


Deborah Reames / Greg Loarie, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6725
Kate Poole, NRDC, (415) 875-6100

A formal appeal was filed Friday by Earthjustice on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) requesting that the Delta Protection Commission reject Yolo County’s approval of the Old Sugar Mill development plan.

Yolo County approved the Old Sugar Mill development plan on October 24, 2006. 

The project site is approximately 12 miles from downtown Sacramento in a known floodplain in the Primary Zone of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Primary Zone was set aside to protect agriculture, fish and wildlife populations, and recreational opportunities by the Delta Protection Act of 1992. Urban development is not permitted in the Primary Zone. View a map of primary and secondary zones.

The proposed development would be on approximately 105 acres encompassing the buildings and grounds of the retired Delta Sugar processing plant, which ceased operation in 1993. The project would more than double the number of residences in the town of Clarksburg and place people behind levees that the County has acknowledged would not adequately protect them from flooding. It would be the first development approved in the Primary Zone of the Delta since passage of the Delta Protection Act in 1992.

“Yolo County really needs to reconsider its approval of this project,” said Kate Poole of NRDC. “To put that many families directly in the floodplain is just indefensible. Have we learned nothing about planning in lowlands since the disaster of Katrina?”

The appeal asks the Delta Protection Commission to find that the Old Sugar Mill plan would put human lives at risk of future flooding from levee failure and the predicted rising waters of global warming. As such, the plan violates the intent of the Delta Protection Act and should be remanded back to Yolo County for reconsideration.

“The Delta Protection Act was passed specifically to protect the prime agricultural region at the core of the Delta from the rampant urban sprawl that has devoured so much of the Central Valley already,” said Greg Loarie, an attorney for Earthjustice who filed the appeal. “Unfortunately, the Old Sugar Mill Project sets a dangerous precedent developing the Delta from the inside out and building homes in the middle of a flood zone. “

In addition to the problems of placing housing in this location, the development of a wastewater treatment facility in this area also threatens the Delta’s health and conflicts with the region’s laws.

According to the Delta Protection Act, “New sewage treatment facilities… and new areas for disposal of sewage effluent and sewage sludge shall not be located within the Delta Primary Zone.”

Read a copy of the appeal

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