Denham Leads Subcommittee Hearing Focusing on Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Region Disaster Preparation

Aug 16, 2012

Stockton, CA – U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management, today held a Congressional hearing in California to examine disaster preparedness in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region.

Significant portions of this region, which includes over 1,000 miles of waterways, more than 1,100 miles of levees, bay-area water supply lines, petroleum pipelines, telecommunications lines, and two inland sea ports, are at risk of damage.  A major disaster in the area, such as an earthquake, could result in devastating impacts on regional water supply, infrastructure, the economy, farmlands and communities. The Delta is also the main hub for delivering fresh water to millions of California residents in the San Francisco bay area and southern coastal communities of the state, along with millions of acres of farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.

Denham’s Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and federal disaster preparedness and response programs.  The focus of today’s hearing was the ongoing concerns of threats in the region, and efforts at the federal, state and local level in ensuring the appropriate disaster planning and preparedness. 

In order to address the potential threats to the Delta region, the steps taken to prepare for and plan for a disaster, and the ways in which each level of government can support and facilitate planning and preparedness in the region, the Congressional panel has received testimony from representatives of FEMA, the California Emergency Management Agency, a former San Joaquin County emergency preparedness official, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the East Bay Municipal Utility District.  Click here for testimony and additional information about today’s hearing.

Below are Chairman Denham’s opening remarks as prepared:

“As a Representative from California, my constituents and I know very well how important it is to plan and prepare for disasters.  From earthquakes to floods to wildfires, good planning and preparedness save lives and mitigate against damages.

“That is why as Chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over FEMA and emergency management, I have held a number of hearings focusing on improving our emergency management capability.

“This Congress, I authored H.R. 2903, the FEMA Reauthorization Act which was voted out of Committee in March.  That bill would not only reauthorize FEMA and key emergency management programs such as the Urban Search and Rescue System, but would help streamline and reduce costs to disaster assistance programs, ensuring communities can recover more quickly following a disaster.

“Today, we are here in Stockton, California to specifically examine planning and preparedness in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region.  It is important to ensure that all levels of government are working together to plan for and prepare for any hazards and disasters.

“The California Delta has more than 1,000 miles of waterways and more than 1,100 miles of levees, bay-area water supply lines, petroleum pipelines, telecommunications lines, and two inland sea ports.  The Delta is the main hub for delivering fresh water to millions of California residents in the San Francisco Bay Area and southern coastal communities of the state, along with millions of acres of farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.

“To plan for a disaster in this region, in 2008, the California legislature passed legislation that created the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Multi-Hazard Coordination Task Force to make recommendations on improving planning and preparedness.  The Task Force, led by CalEMA, issued its report in January of this year.

“The report included recommendations related to establishing an Interagency Unified Command System Framework, developing an emergency preparedness and response strategy, and ensuring all-hazards training and exercises.  Many of these recommendations require close coordination between FEMA, the state and local communities, as well as those in charge of our infrastructure and utilities.  Today we have a diverse panel of witnesses to discuss this important issue.”