Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sacramento Flood Protection, the Best or Less? Part Two

The three important facts revealed in this story from the Bee today is that 1) New Orleans had 250 year flood protection, 2) the Folsom Dam improvement plans would give Sacramento 200 year flood protection, and 3) to get any protection above that the solutions have to be sought upstream of Folsom Dam.

The two political positions as stated are; 1) environmentalist leadership says 400 year protection is too expensive, and 2) public leadership says we should be aiming for as close to 500 year protection as we can get.

After what we saw in New Orleans, whose leadership felt that more protection than the 250 year level they already had, was also too expensive, and considering the real costs—in the multi-billions—to clean-up and rebuild New Orleans, we should be careful about being penny-wise and pound foolish.

Auburn dam cost study part of bill
House will also consider today cheaper flood-control projects.
By David Whitney -- Bee Washington BureauPublished 2:15 am PST Wednesday, November 9, 2005

WASHINGTON - The House will take up an energy and water spending bill today that encourages new approaches to Sacramento flood control while ordering a new study on the cost of building an Auburn dam.

The measure also puts further pressure on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to speed construction of a bridge over the American River below Folsom Dam. The need for the bridge intensified after the 2003 closure of a road atop the dam that had been heavily used by commuters. The measure directs $10 million to the bridge's construction next year.

The $30 billion spending bill contains the imprints of Reps. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and John Doolittle, R-Roseville, without any dramatic shifts in the strategy for protecting Sacramento from American River flooding.

It sets the stage, however, for what could turn out to be an extensive congressional reappraisal of that strategy next year, including cheaper ways to modify Folsom Dam to deliver 200-year flood protection to the region and, more fundamentally, whether in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation of New Orleans, 200-year protection is enough.

In total project funding, the Sacramento area would receive about $40 million next year for ongoing flood-control work.

Since the August hurricane inundated vast areas of New Orleans, many have begun to wonder about Sacramento's survival chances in a massive flood. New Orleans' level of flood protection had been rated at 250 years, meaning its risk of a devastating flood was 1-in-250 during any given year.

For the rest of the story: