Posted February 12, 2020
PETALUMA, CA — Federal funding to the tune of $9.7 million has been allotted for the long-awaited dredging of the Petaluma River, U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman announced this week. The Democratic congressman from San Rafael also said Monday that $1.3 million has been set aside for preparation of the San Rafael Canal for dredging.
"Local economies depend on 'forgotten harbors', like the Petaluma River and San Rafael Canal," Huffman said. "I am thrilled that we will finally be able to address the recreational, commercial, and public safety problems that come from delayed dredging. The safety and viability of commercial and recreational traffic is the highest priority, and I thank the Army Corps for taking action on this urgent infrastructure need."
Federal appropriations bills directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize funding for both river-maintenance projects, so the funding for both is included in the agency's Fiscal Year 2020 budget.
Huffman is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and said he helped lead the congressional effort to secure this funding. Last fall, Huffman took the Corps Commander, Lt. Col. John Cunningham and a district engineer on a tour of the river and the canal.
The last time the Petaluma River was dredged was some 17 years ago, in 2003, so this is welcome news for local officials.
"To say I am over the moon with this news is an understatement," Petaluma Mayor Teresa Barrett said. "It comes at such a critical time for our river which has suffered so much from neglect that has driven away river-dependent businesses, interrupted civic centered celebrations, halted recreational boating tourism and caused economic and environmental blight at the very heart of our town."
The dredging project protects the downtown from flooding and provides for revitalization along the river and turning basin, she said.
"Soon we will be able to smile as we face our river whether it is from the reinvigorated downtown and the soon to be constructed Adobe Road Winery, or from the newly constructed Float House on the turning basin or the proposed river adjacent apartments."
To be exact, the Army Corps expects to spend $9,745,000 on dredging activities in the Petaluma River, and $1,378,000 on the San Rafael Canal for environmental coordination and compliance, plans and specifications, and dredge surveys.
"The canal is a vital artery of San Rafael allowing for flood control, public safety, transportation, and commerce," said Nadine Urciuoli, president of The San Rafael Channel Association. "With the last full dredging taking place in 2003, we have been growing fearful that our waterway would soon silt in past the point of no return. We are thankful for the continued efforts and are eager to have a navigable canal in the near future."