Santa Barbara County supervisors learned Tuesday that tens of millions of dollars in repairs to the Santa Maria River Levee are needed. If the levee remains in its current condition, homeowners could be forced by federal regulations to buy flood insurance costing roughly $1,000 annually. "We believe a (structural) fix might be cheaper" in the long run, county Deputy Public Works Director Tom Fayram said. "Insurance doesn't fix anything and just continues the risk into the future." The weakened levee has FEMA revising its maps to show that much of Santa Maria city is within the river's flood plain. A flood-plain designation by FEMA triggers a requirement for homeowners to buy flood insurance.
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