After millions of dollars of flood damage and mass evacuations this year, California is grappling with how to update its aging flood infrastructure. That has some calling for a new approach to flood control – one that mimics nature instead of trying to contain it.
In the wake of a near disaster at Oroville Dam caused by heavy runoff and a damaged spillway, the former chief of flood operations for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said last week it may be time to reconsider how the reservoir is operated to avert such dilemmas.
Safety experts say there is no time for delay in a state plan to restore the 770-foot Oroville Dam, and they warn California would face a “very significant risk” if a damaged spillway is not in working order by fall, the start of the next rainy season.
While a nearly record-breaking rainy season has battered California’s dams and stretched the limits of local levees, the storms that began to hit Sacramento on Tuesday aren’t expected to put much additional strain on the state’s flood-control system.
If 200-year flood protection isn’t secured — or at least a financial and implementation plan in place by July 1, 2016 — development of the Great Wolf Resort and family entertainment zone, The Trails at Manteca, and other residential projects in southwest Manteca won’t take place.
“A major roadblock to completion of critical levee repairs in Sacramento’s Natomas basin was cleared Tuesday when President Barack Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act into law.”
“In Congress, seniority still matters. Although lawmakers can no longer earmark funds for home-state projects, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has written into a massive water bill a measure that promises to bring more money to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”
“The House passed the closest thing so far this year to an infrastructure bill – a $12 billion-plus bipartisan measure authorizing 34 water projects, ranging from flood protection in California and North Dakota to deepening the Port of Savannah and widening a Texas-Louisiana waterway that services the oil industry.”
“The House of Representatives, on a vote of 412-4, approved legislation to move an array of Sacramento-area flood control projects forward, concluding [Rep. Doris] Matsui’s nearly four-year quest for the bill.”