Why Doesn't California Build Big Dams Any More?

Bay Curious


Been talking about how most of our water comes from a system of dams and reservoirs set up to capture the states precipitation so one logical solution here is more dams right. Not so fast says jay lund a professor of civil and environmental engineering at uc davis story. I tell people is if you were the first engineer in california and you were going to build the first reservoir where would you put it. You had put it the cheapest place that gives you the most water. Where would you put the reservoir the next best place. We've done this fifteen hundred times. What do we have left. Expensive places that don't give you much water. He says with fifteen hundred dams in the state all the good damn spots are taken heck. Even a lot of the bad spots are taken but that doesn't mean that there aren't smart things we can do with our reservoirs as david romero takes it from here with four big ideas so the first big idea has to do with managing those fifteen hundred reservoirs differently. I learned how lake mendocino along the russian river. That's where i met. Nick mala savage in the middle of the mostly dry lake bed. He helps manage the lake for the us army corps of engineers in two thousand nineteen. The water was about forty feet over our heads. He says lake mendocino could go dry by the end of the summer mar lake levels here at lake. Mendocino are the lowest they've ever been for this time in the year even though this lake is nearly dry it's on the leading edge of science around reservoir management in the past. Water was let out of the reservoir whether or not storms were in the forecast. They wanted to make room for more water. They expected would come but because of climate change. Those storms are becoming less frequent malice. Savage is helping pilot a new approach at lake. Mendocino conserve wait until a major rainstorm is coming and then let water out of the reservoir. It's called forecast informed reservoir operations. We can sit on this water. We can continue to watch the forecast and then you see that big boomer of a storm conham then you can make the decision. Hey the sun's still shining. We need to put water into the river. Generate that airspace for the next storm. And we're good

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