Leaking pipe causes sinkhole on levee near Roberts Road

A collapsed pipe owned by Roberts Ditch Irrigation Company is suspected to have caused a sinkhole on the western levee of the Sacramento River, just outside of Colusa near the Sacramento River State Recreation Area.

The levee road has been closed to traffic when the sinkhole was first discovered.

According to Joel Farias, of the Sutter Maintenance Yard – one of the agencies that monitors and manages levees in the area – work is already being done to repair the sinkhole.

“I can tell you right now, every indication of what that sinkhole looks like is it’s a collapsed pipe. One of our employees was able to actually look inside the hole and see where the pipe had collapsed… The way that looks, water has been eroding there for some time. I believe that pipe was placed sometime in the late ‘20’s,” Farias said.

Farias added:  “Roberts Ditch Irrigation Company reached out to Davis Machine Shop to repair that… They’ve jumped on board, and I don’t see them procrastinating at all.”

Farias added that permits would be granted to the company so that they can move forward with those repairs. According to Roberts Ditch Irrigation Company, those permits have yet to be issued.

“There is a sinkhole, a hole there. It was the pipe that caused that. The Department of Water Resources is the lead agency, and right now we are waiting on the permits to fix that: We’re getting all of our ducks in a row,” Bill Ash, Roberts Ditch Irrigation Company President, confirmed on Monday. “We have a construction company that can fix it. We’re just wading through the permitting process with all of the various state and federal agencies. Maybe they can get this under emergency jurisdiction, but then again, we just don’t know. Those wheels are slow to turn. There’s nothing we can do until we have those permits, and we’ll just take it from there. Hopefully it is sooner rather than later: Not only is it an inconvenience with the closure of a roadway that sees some vehicle traffic and quite a bit of foot traffic, (but) there’s a danger there. We need the water, too. (The Roberts Ditch Irrigation Company’s pump) is shut down right now.”

With river levels low, there is no immediate danger to Colusa residents. Still, the Sutter Maintenance Yard is prepared if river levels rise and repairs have not yet been made, Farias said.

“We have a contingency plan. If we see the water rising to around 62 feet (before the repairs are made), we will fill that with dirt and gravel,” Farias said. “Colusa has never flooded. But if the levee were to break there, Colusa could see a first-time flood.”

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net