Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sacramento River & Flood Relief

The best flood relief on the Sacramento River is still the Shasta Dam, if it had been built out to its original specifications (which still can be done), as reported by the Sacramento Bee, in an article about water storage in 2004:

“As California looks for new ways to increase water supplies in the face of mounting shortages, this monstrous 602-foot facade holding back the Sacramento River seems destined to grow even taller. It's a perfect spot for expansion, although it's not the only site under intense scrutiny in this scramble for new water storage. Shasta Dam was designed to be 800 feet tall, so adding concrete to its top presents no significant engineering obstacles. From an engineering standpoint, it's a piece of cake. The dam, built between 1938 and 1945, was originally planned to be 200 feet taller. At 800 feet, it would have been the highest and biggest in the world. If Shasta Dam had been built up to its engineering limit in 1945, it is arguable that Northern and Central California would not be facing a critical water shortage now. According to a 1999 Bureau of Reclamation study, a dam 200 feet taller would be able to triple storage to 13.89 million acre-feet of water. Still, tripling the size of Shasta Lake, on paper at least, would store nine times the projected 2020 water deficit for the Sacramento, San Joaquin and Tulare Lake basins during normal water years.” (Raising Shasta Dam's height looms large among ideas to boost state's dwindling storage. By David Whitney -- Bee Washington Bureau Published 2:15 am PST Monday, November 22, 2004)

Flood relief valve floated
Agency proposes buying rights on rural lands north of capital for river overflow, easing the pressure on city's levee system.
By Matt Weiser - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PST Thursday, December 7, 2006

No matter what Sacramento does to improve its own levees, the city will always face a hard truth: We're at the neck of a funnel, with a 27,000-square-mile watershed hanging over us.

With that in mind, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency is floating a unique program to keep the neck of that funnel from shrinking further. It wants to charge fees on new urban development in the metro area and then use that money to buy development rights on rural land in Sutter and Yolo counties, upstream and adjacent to the city.

The idea is to prevent urbanization that would otherwise seem inevitable in rural areas along the Sacramento River. These areas have historically flooded first in major storms, providing a safety valve by diverting water pressure from Sacramento's levees.

Urbanization would bring with it stronger levees, but would eliminate the safety valve.
SAFCA Executive Director Stein Buer said Sacramento has long benefited from the de facto flood protection provided by rural areas. He said it's time for the city to pay its fair share for this protection.