Sunday, September 24, 2006

Auburn Dam Taboo

Legislator Neillo is one public leader who understands the importance of discussing all the options when examining solutions to public problems, and one hopes his clear-headedness extends deeper into the public leadership ranks.

California really needs leadership on this as we know all too well the price that may have to be paid without it.

An excerpt.

Roger Niello: Debate needed on real flood control solutions
By Roger Niello - Special to The BeePublished 12:00 am PDT Sunday, September 24, 2006

Roger Niello is the Republican Assemblyman from Fair Oaks.

In the last year, The Bee has editorialized on several occasions about many of the supposed "flood control" measures that were proposed in the recently concluded legislative session and lamented the Legislature's inaction on them.

There's just one problem: Not one of the measures being discussed in the Legislature would do anything to reduce the flood risk that our citizens face from a catastrophic flood.

While these bills certainly deserved to be debated in the Legislature, these measures deal with land use and liability responsibility. AB 1899, AB 3050 and AB 1898 would have simply placed new mandates on local governments and homeowners, and would have required these local governments to share in the liability for flooding. What they did not do was address the potential for flooding in existing developed areas.

Extensive improvements have been made to our American River levees, and emergency funding has been made available by the state to repair some critical spots on local levees, yet Sacramento still doesn't have a comprehensive plan for flood control.

This fall, voters will have the ability to approve a statewide bond measure that will provide the much-needed funds for additional critical levee strengthening. Further, plans are being pursued to improve the operation and raise the height of Folsom dam. If and when all of these projects are completed, Sacramento's flood protection will be doubled -- and we will still have the lowest level of flood protection of any major metropolitan area in the United States, including New Orleans.

While the region has long debated the Auburn dam, the fact remains that it is the only solution that will give us the level of flood protection that is needed to prevent billions of dollars of disaster and save an untold number of lives.

Albeit an expensive project, an Auburn dam could provide much more than just flood control. Given the benefits of a much-needed additional water supply, clean electricity generation and a drastically reduced flood risk, it seems baffling to me that we have simply taken Auburn dam off the table.