Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sacramento Flooding

Sacramento is easily the most flood prone major river city in the country, but, had the initial plans to build Shasta Dam to its originally engineered height (as reported by the Los Angeles Times) and build Auburn Dam (which Congressman McClintock supports) that would no longer be the case, and the inevitability of major floods in the Valley would have been substantially reduced.

A recent article in the Sacramento Bee failed to note those two important facts.

An excerpt from the Los Angeles Times article.

“Raising Shasta Dam has been under on-again, off-again consideration for at least two decades. Some of the most detailed studies date back to the 1980s, when Don Hodel, who served as energy secretary and then Interior secretary under President Reagan, proposed the project as an alternative source of water for San Francisco if Hetch Hetchy Dam in Yosemite National Park were knocked down.

“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.

“Sheri Harral, public affairs officer at the dam, said World War II and materials shortages associated with the war effort led to a decision to stop construction at 602 feet.

"The thinking was to come back and add on to it if ever there was a need to," Harral said. "They started looking at raising it in 1978."

“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.”