California is getting too much of a good thing

Image 1 of 6

Flooded valley west of Sacramento courtes of California Department of Transportation

In a region that has seen so much drought over the last decade, the prospect of moisture would be a welcome one.  But right now, not so much.  The state of California has seen more moisture in the last few weeks than it typically gets in a year and this could actually turn into their wettest “wet season” on record.  Several more inches of rain looks likely for northern and central parts of the state with the highest elevations getting several more feet of snow.

Now the state has too much of a good thing.  The Lake Oroville dam is the perfect example.  The dam that holds back the states 2nd largest reservoir and the main source of drinking water for millions has been damaged.  Not really the dam itself, but the manmade spillway that allows for normal releases of excess water during the typical wet season.  This concrete spillway prevents erosion when thousands of cubic feet of water pass through the area every second during a release.  Well, with the spillway damaged, the water flowing through the spillway has eroded a massive hole in the hillside next to the dam which is now threatening the structural integrity of the dam itself.  With repairs on hold until the rain stops falling, it could be weeks or even months before officials can begin permanent repairs which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.  In the meantime, those living downstream are living on edge because if this dam were to fail, it could send a 50 foot wall of water down the river which could inundate and/or destroy thousands of buildings.

And just this morning, more residents have been advised that they may need to leave their homes because of a 2nd dam releasing water through its spillway.  The Don Pedro dam in central California will likely begin released sometime on Monday which could flood the valley below and hundreds of structures.