Water managers are shifting from flood control to water storage at reservoirs across the California. Folsom Lake is at roughly 70 percent capacity, with about twice the amount of inflow as outflow. “We can kind of buffer up and down — give or take — to try and get that target,” said Todd Plain with Bureau of Reclamation. “That target, as time goes on, is moving up as we fill. So, it’s OK to be to be a little bit above average right now.”
A new report on the safety of more than 1,200 California dams reveals only one dam is listed as unsatisfactory — and that dam is Oroville. In this Butte County town of some 19,000 people, some are getting wary. “Businesses are concerned with getting on with business,” said Eric Smith, CEO of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce. “And folks are wanting to get on and feel they can live safely in their homes.” The new report by the Division of Safety of Dams in the Department of Water Resources shows an old problem is still active at Oroville Dam, which has the “unsatisfactory” rating due to safety deficiencies.
California’s natural beauty is facing tremendous challenges — a climate that is changing and a population that is growing fast and constantly demanding the most precious resource: water. “California needs a new tool to manage water for the next drought,” said Jim Watson, Sites Project Authority general manager. One of those new tools is the Sites Reservoir Project, which was just awarded $816 million in voter-approved state funding. Located about 90 miles north of Sacramento, the site of the new reservoir is just remote rangeland now, but when it’s completed in 12 years, it will store nearly twice as much water as Folsom Lake — enough to serve 4 million Californians each year.
California water officials on Friday released a plan to increase flows through a major central California river, an effort that would save salmon and other fish but deliver less water to farmers in the state’s agricultural heartland. It’s the latest development in California’s long-running feud between environmental and agricultural interests and is likely to spark lawsuits. “The State Water Resources Control Board’s decision today is the first shot fired in the next chapter of California’s water wars,” warned Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced, who represents San Joaquin Valley communities that rely on diversion from the river for water supply.
Rainwater is a precious resource in California and environmentalists are promoting a ballot measure that aims to protect homeowners who want to collect that water from higher taxes. It doesn’t happen often, but Proposition 72 actually has unanimous support from Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature, along with business, labor and environmental groups. In fact, there is no formal opposition to Prop. 72, which promises some rainy day relief.