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Speaker Robert Rivas Commemorates Historic Agreement to Upgrade Pajaro Levee System on Expedited Timeline

For immediate release:

WATSONVILLE, CA— Today, California State Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the California Department of Water Resources, U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren and Jimmy Panetta, and other elected officials in Watsonville for the signing of the Project Partnership Agreement for the Pajaro Levee upgrades.


What This Means For Pajaro and Central Coast Residents

This historic agreement follows Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature last month of Assembly Bill 876, authored by Speaker Rivas,. Now, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can start on the levee and waterway improvements as soon as possible and complete the $500 million project years earlier.

The Pajaro levee upgrades will provide 100-year flood protection and enhanced safety to the Pajaro community, as well as preserve the environmental integrity of valley waterways.


What Speaker Robert Rivas Says

“As a result of our collective work, these long overdue improvements to the Pajaro levee system will start as soon as possible and finish years earlier,” Speaker Rivas said. “I am grateful for everyone’s partnership to make these upgrades possible. Our work has just begun, and we will follow through to deliver on the promise and completion of this critical infrastructure.”


What Federal and State Leaders Say

“A project of this scale would not succeed without the strong and unyielding support from the collective energy everyone here provides,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers San Francisco deputy district commander Maor Shantel Glass said. “My sincere thanks of course extends to the members of Congress who have provided an incredibly supportive amount of funding through Federal appropriations and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as the support another crucial partner has provided, the State of California. Without strong efforts to remove administrative barriers on all fronts (local, state and federal), we would not be where we are today."

“The Pajaro River Flood Risk Management Project is about prioritizing people, partnerships, and pressure by public servants to get it done,” U.S. Representative Jimmy Panetta said. “With those priorities as the foundation of this project, we can continue to take critical steps forward including today's signing of the PPA. As we commence this project, our partnerships at all levels of government allow us to continue the pressure for funding and progress so that we can get to completion and protect the valuable products and invaluable people of our community."

“By advancing the project start time, the full levee project will now be completed much sooner than originally scheduled,” State Senator John Laird said. “I want to express my gratitude to Speaker Rivas for his leadership on AB 876, and extend my thanks to the broad coalition of supporters that made this possible, ensuring the community of Pajaro is protected from future catastrophes.”


More Information and Next Steps

Pajaro’s levee system underwent extensive damage earlier this year, when devastating storms ravaged the region, causing dangerous flooding and forcing evacuations. Governor Newsom and Speaker Rivas visited Pajaro in March and made a commitment to quickly pursue upgrades and deliver community support.

This summer the Governor issued an executive order to expedite emergency repairs before next winter’s storms, and approved $20 million in state funds to help rebuild the community of Pajaro. 

Speaker Rivas’ AB 876 built upon this to expedite the longer-term levee modernization project, and to ensure the preservation of Central Coast waterways.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects to begin work on the $500 million levee modernization project in early 2024. The project is funded by a combination of federal, state, and local dollars.

For photos and video from the press conference, please email