Folsom Dam Ceremony
October 17, 2017
Folsom Dam Ceremony
There have been so many milestones passed with this project, it is a wonderful feeling to realize that we’ve finally arrived at the destination.
The Folsom Dam auxiliary gates will help the Sacramento region achieve 200-year flood protection, taking the chance of flooding to one half of one percent per year. Those are better odds than we’ve ever had against the kind of flooding that once plagued our Capitol region. This year, we’ve seen the damage flooding can do on a massive scale, and this project will help defend against such a fate here.
Additional upstream storage could take that flood threat to one in 400.
Flood control is only one of the blessings that dams like Folsom bring to our communities. They also create entire recreational regions and all the commerce they bring. They generate the cleanest and cheapest electricity our technology is capable of producing.
And most of all, they store surplus water in wet years to assure that we have it in dry ones.
We’ve been through a remarkable cycle of drought and flood these past five years. For four years, we watched our water supply depleted to the point that, in the summer of 2016, our ability to deliver water to the communities of Roseville, Folsom, Granite Bay, Fair Oaks and Orangevale came into serious doubt. Folsom Reservoir provides water for an estimated half a million residents and businesses, as well as supplying irrigation and hydropower for the entire region.
Then, this past year, we had record precipitation. Atmospheric rivers poured into northern California – snow so deep the ski resorts were welcoming skiers in July. I suppose that’s what happens when 38 million people spend four years praying for rain.
But we couldn’t store that superabundance of water, because we had no place to put it. Folsom Lake, that was approaching the status of mudflat in the summer of 2016 had to open its floodgates wide as millions of acre feet of surplus water were lost to the ocean.
Most people think the Colorado River is the mother of all rivers in the West. The Sacramento River and its tributaries are actually bigger. The difference is that they store 70 million acre feet on the Colorado system and we store only 10 million acre feet on the Sacramento system and lose the rest to the ocean.
So now that we have fixed the flood problem with this nearly one billion dollar installation, we now need to turn our attention to storage.
The Army Corps of engineers has demonstrated it can still get the job done when it puts its expertise and will to it.
And I want to complement Col. David Ray, who seems to be making some significant improvements to the Corps approach to local infrastructure. We recently received word that the Corps has finally granted the permits required to proceed with improvements on Highway 65, and our communities are hopeful that these changes herald a new and cooperative partnership with the Army Corps.
So there’s more to celebrate today than just the completion of this project – I am increasingly optimistic that we can also now look forward to a new era of infrastructure improvements across this region – beginning with the Martis Valley Trail at Tahoe -- and to have the Army Corps leading the way.