Flood Protection, Public Discussion, Part two

Hopefully the many local leaders heading back to Washington this week as part of the annual Metro Chamber sponsored Capitol-to-Capitol trip, will have read this story in today’s Bee regarding a balanced approach to flood control.

The folks who did the initial planning many years ago knew this, which is why they included the Auburn Dam, a higher Shasta Dam, and a peripheral canal in their planning to control floods, store and move water to deal with the dry years California sees regularly, and the substantial growth they knew would continue, as people migrate to the lifestyle and weather that make California a premium place to live.

Achieving balance in our approach to flood protection is a crucial aspect of the public discussion, and we are pleased to see it presented so well by the Army Corps of Engineers South Pacific Division commander headquartered in San Francisco, Brigadier General Joseph Schroedel.

Here is an excerpt.

General: Integrate solutions on floods
By David Whitney — Bee Washington Bureau Published 2:15 am PDT Sunday, April 30, 2006

WASHINGTON – Brig. Gen. Joseph Schroedel, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ South Pacific Division in San Francisco, oversees military and civilian operations in 10 states with a $1 billion annual budget.

What’s been bringing him lately to Washington and Capitol Hill, where he has been a frequent witness at hearings, is flood control in Sacramento and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Hurricane Katrina has accelerated interest in a long-term solution to what has been an enormously thorny political division.

Schroedel said he believes the region is facing a rare opportunity to address the region’s long-term water and flood-control needs and, in doing so, pull the Delta back from the brink of environmental collapse. He said that a mix of projects, perhaps including an Auburn dam or a peripheral canal to carry water from the Sacramento River to Southern California rather than pumping it from the Delta, will be needed.

He was asked about these issues in a telephone interview Friday.

Q: General, you preach the need for a comprehensive approach to flood control in Sacramento and the Bay Delta. What do you mean?

A: There are three overall points that need to be made.

First, we need action now, on both short-term and long-term activities. Second, we need the public involved. And third, the public agencies are working very hard to find the solutions for both the short and long term to make the best use of limited resources.

I think Katrina was a wake-up call to the nation. We’ve got to fix our aging infrastructure and, for us, we’ve got to fix our levees. We’ve got to solve problems on a watershed basis. That means there are multiple objectives, not single objectives of just water supply or just environment or just flood protection.

When you look at how we’ve done business in the past, we’ve taken a piecemeal approach that generally led to an either/or mentality which leads to debates and limited action, if any.

What I think what California needs is both a short-term and a long-term action plan.

On the American River, short term, we are working very hard to complete the Folsom Dam project to increase the flood protection for Sacramento and that portion of the basin to 175-year protection. We’re also working on the repair of erosion sites on the Sacramento River. The third component is addressing the Delta.

We need a long-term plan that looks at the basin as a whole, that takes the Delta, the American River, the Sacramento River, the entire state of California, the water supply issue for the south, and integrates those into a solution that resolves any competing demands.

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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