Rheem Creek set for flood risk reduction project

City Council to consider Rheem Creek overflows grant resolution
Photo courtesy of the City of Richmond.

By Kathy Chouteau

The Richmond City Council is set to consider adoption of a resolution at its meeting tonight that will accept and appropriate a $1,598,844 Urban Flood Protection Grant Award for the Flood Risk Reduction in the Rheem Creek Watershed” project, according to the July 19 meeting agenda documents.

In an effort to address recurring creek overflows and flooding, the project will look to restore half a mile of Rheem Creek, per the documents. The City Council previously adopted a resolution authorizing the sizeable grant, which was awarded to the City of Richmond by the California Natural Resources Agency in September 2021. The current actions are being requested by the Public Works Department so that the contracts can be executed and the project can begin.

Background info on the documents indicated that Richmond’s Fairmede neighborhood and nearby unincorporated Rollingwood neighborhood have weathered flooding tied to Rheem Creek overflows for more than two decades.

In recent years, American Rivers received a $274,515 planning and design grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy for the “Community Based Ecological Solutions in Rheem Creek Watershed” project. In turn, they teamed up with the City of Richmond, the Watershed Project, Restoration Design Group and additional local partners “to complete technical studies and prepare community supported plans to solve flooding issues along Rheem Creek,” per the City Council documents.

This planning and design project, which is almost complete, left the City well positioned to seek implementation grants. The City and its partners applied to the Urban Flood Protection Grant Program in June 2020 seeking $1.6 million for final design and project implementation for a restoration project, according to the documents.

“Construction of the proposed restoration project will reduce flooding by removing invasive species and excessive sediment, grading a geomorphically stable channel and planting native riparian vegetation to improve creek habitat,” the documents stated.

The $1,598,844 Urban Flood Protection Grant Award will fully fund the Flood Risk Reduction in the Rheem Creek Watershed project and designates $30,000 for City of Richmond staff hours, according to the documents. The City will be required to maintain the improvements for 25 years.