Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Drought, Dams & Trees are Legal

1) The state water chief, Lester Snow testified to a congressional hearing in Fresno recently and predicted dire consequences if the drought continues into 2009, which some say it will.

An excerpt.

“Next year “could be the worst drought in California history,” Snow said.

“Lake Shasta, the state's largest reservoir, is at 48 percent capacity, department officials said.

“The next-largest reservoir, Lake Oroville – which sits at the top of the vast system of state pumps and canals that send mountain river supplies to Southern California – is at 40 percent capacity and will drop to about 20 percent by the end of December, he said.

“Snow told the crowd of about 250 that the water that moves south from the Delta has an economic impact of nearly $400 billion.

“No immediate solutions to the water crisis were offered. There was considerable talk about a need for a new reservoir, an improved water delivery system and a need to take another look at what is really threatening wild fish in the Delta. “

2) With $400 billion at stake it might make sense to look at a relatively small investment to increase our water storage with new dams and retrofitting an old one.

The building of Auburn Dam, still supported by groups—including us—like the Auburn Dam Council, would add 2.3 million acre feet to the water supply in the American River Watershed, and for the larger region and state, the raising of Shasta Dam to its originally engineered height of 200 feet higher than it now is, would triple its water supply, which this 2004 article from the Sacramento Bee describes.

The cost for these two projects is probably in the $10-20 billion range, a relatively low price to pay for the extra water, hydroelectric power, Parkway and salmon sustainability (from the stabilization of American River water flow and temperature from the Auburn Dam) and extra flood protection.

3) Finally, the Bee informs us that, yes, a new law makes it legal—most of the time—to grow trees…really!!