The city of Santa Cruz planned an emergency breach of the San Lorenzo River Monday morning as river water flooded city streets and buildings, causing extensive damage, reports local NBC affiliate KSBW.
“We have folks near the river who are experiencing flooding in their basement,” City Manager assistant Scott Collins told the outlet. “We have local private infrastructure experiencing flooding and city streets are experiencing flooding.”
The problem is not due to rainfall, but to California’s record drought.
Collins said that because there has been no new water coming into the river via rainfall, pressure built up by the idle water has forced it into nearby homes and businesses.
“The water backs up and sits for a long period of time,” Collins told KSBW. “It leads to pressure, and inevitably the water has to go somewhere so it seeps underneath the levies and starts flooding homes, local businesses and public infrastructure.”
The city will reportedly cut a sand bar to allow river water to flow out to the ocean in hoped of reducing the water level from seven feet to four or five feet. Collins said the city is doing all it can to prevent potential harm to the environment, including possible fish die-offs.
According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, the work may not be completed until Tuesday.