Feb 08, 2018
Bill Bird Dams and Public Benefit
The dams and reservoirs that make up both the state and federal water projects were built for one reason, and one reason only and it wasn’t to provide irrigation water for farms. That was always a side benefit. Our system of dams, reservoirs and levees were built to protect cities like Sacramento against catastrophic flooding. That is the main public benefit of a dam.
Without adequate flood protection, you will continue to see events like the Feather River Basin flood of 1986 that killed 13 people. Nearly a decade later, in 1997, 250 square miles in California flooded from an atmospheric rain event, killing two and injuring fifty more. Just last year, right about this time, half of Colusa County was under two to three feet of water. The town of Maxwell flooded because the canals overflowed. These are the same canals that, oh, by the way, would be used to carry excess water to fill Sites Reservoir. Had this reservoir been in place, it’s highly possible that Maxwell would have been spared.
So – for the California Water Commission to assign a project like Sites Reservoir with ZERO public benefit – the Commission is essentially telling people that protecting families, children and communities from devastating floods carries absolutely no public benefit. That tells me that perhaps the Commission needs to use a different set of priorities to score these projects. Because, in my opinion, and the opinion of the Farm Bureau, protecting children and families is a pretty big deal.