Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Flood control blueprint a sea change in California's Central Valley

An editorial in the Sacramento Bee: If California is to help protect the Central Valley from floods over the next half century, it can't just place Band-Aids on the Valley's current system of levees, dams, weirs and bypasses.

Fortunately, the state Department of Water Resources, under Director Mark W. Cowin, seems to recognize this reality. In releasing a draft of the Central Valley Flood Protection plan a few weeks ago, DWR has acknowledged the state must make strategic changes to the system to protect lives and property, prepare for climate change and marry flood control with habitat and recreational concerns.

Best of all, the DWR report makes clear that flood control is not just a Central Valley responsibility. The state's transportation system, its seat of government, its agricultural industries and its water delivery system could be dangerously disrupted by a devastating flood.

"The state is also responsible for responding to emergencies and public threats," says the report. "Thus, it is in the state's interest to invest funds proactively to avoid and mitigate for known risks."

More of a framework for action than a detailed list of recommendations, the DWR report floats a number of ideas that have long been discussed by engineers but not pushed in a real way. These include expanding the Yolo Bypass to handle stronger flows expected in the future. It also mentions creating two new bypasses, in the south Delta and beside the Feather River, to relieve pressure points in the system....

A retouched image of the confluence of the Feather and Yuba rivers, near Yuba City, California, from Yuba_City_CA_From_Air.jpg, work by Shannon1, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

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