Escondido, CA

No praise for faint dams


The State Water Resources Board has refused to lift the statewide drought order. The Oroville Dam in Northern California is literally cracking under the pressure of water running off the emergency spillway, threatening to flood cities such as Yuba City, Marysville and any town downstream. And I don’t feel so great myself.

I remember as a child growing up in Yuba City. Any house over a certain age had what can only be described as a “high water mark” that occurred in 1955 during a flood of the Feather River. You could see the traces of the flood on walls, often as high as four or five feet tall. That’s before the Oroville Dam, the tallest earthen dam in the country, was built, and stopped the periodic flooding.

We’ve all seen photos of the tsunami that hit Malaysia a few years ago. Imagine, if you will, 30 foot “wall of water” sweeping down the Sacramento Valley. Would that it would sweep away the state capitol, but we couldn’t be so lucky. Instead, I have this awful image of thousands of innocent people perishing in flood waters. Mainly people who are too stubborn to move. Stubborn in the same sense that the State Board is being stubborn about there not being a drought, even as thousands are threatened by an inland tidal wave.

It is often said that fanatics are those who redouble their efforts when they have forgotten what their original purpose was. That definition could probably be applied to the wing-nuts at the State Board, who continue to insist that as long as any part of the state is in drought that we all must pay the penalty.

Now, let’s tie all of these separate points together. The dam is under threat of collapse because the Brown administration has refused to allocate any money to shore it up. When President Trump called for $1 trillion in infrastructure building and asked state governors for their wish lists, the Oroville dam wasn’t among them. The wish list DID include Brown’s favorite bucket list project: the California high speed rail. Price tag: $100 billion. Sexy and high tech, it’s a lot more interesting than propping up or even partially replacing a sagging dam.

Also apparently missing from the wish list were any dams to capture more of the rainfall and snowfall, so that the California wouldn’t be at the mercy of droughts when they periodically return.

For some reason San Francisco style lefties hate dams. One of Obama’s cabinet members once promised that there would be no more federal dam projects. It would seem that preserving existing dams is also not high on the list of desirable actions.

Our rulers in Sacramento hate building dams, but are reluctant to admit when a drought is over. They also don’t care anything about maintaining existing dams. When it rains, it pours — all the way to the Pacific Ocean. And if Oroville dam busts, the state will lose 3.5 million acre feet.

This is planning for the future?

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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