In a major victory for the cities of Petaluma and San Rafael, Calif., more than $11 million has been earmarked for maintenance of the Petaluma River.
The Petaluma River hasn’t been dredged since 2003, and conditions have gotten steadily worse. As a result, the river’s commercial tonnage, a key metric for prioritizing federal projects, has steadily declined.
The Army Corps of Engineers plan, announced this week, contains about $9.7 million to dredge the Petaluma River and $1.3 million for preparation work for the San Rafael Canal. “I am thrilled that we will finally be able to address the recreational, commercial and public safety problems that come from this delayed dredging,” Rep. Jared Huffman said in a statement.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Petaluma mayor Teresa Barret. “This is exactly what Petaluma needs right now and certainly what our river needs.”
In January, anticipating that the engineers would again pass on the much-needed dredging, the Petaluma city council approved around $2 million for emergency work. With the federal funds in place, the city will invest those dollars on improvements to the city marina.
“Local economies depend on forgotten harbors like the Petaluma River and San Rafael Canal,” Huffman said. “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.”
Work could get underway as soon as early June, depending on the migration of protected species that spawn in the watershed.