Friday May 13, 2022

Sant Barbara Independent

Water policy in the Western U.S. has always been a contentious issue. Changes in water management, however, are slowly happening. For example, an increasing number of dams are being deconstructed where environmental, safety, and Indigenous-cultural impacts outweigh the benefits of hydropower, flood control, irrigation, or recreation. Dams across the U.S. have an average age of more than half a century, and many pose a growing safety risk. Power production from dams is becoming less economically viable as costs of solar- and wind-generated electricity fall. 

More recently, the issues of water wastage and flood control from dam removal are being offset by allowing rivers to return to more natural flow patterns. Floodplain restoration is occurring along the Mississippi River and in Washington State, but California is rethinking how rivers flow even more broadly and leads with an additional emphasis on ecological health as climate change alters the environment. Carefully selected types of woody trees and shrubs are being planted in restored floodplains to enhance wildlife habitat and attract native species. 

California’s largest floodplain restoration project, the 2,100-acre Dos Rios Ranch Preserve in the Central Valley (at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers), is removing levees so that when heavy rains occur, the rivers can overflow their banks and revert to their historic floodplains.

Read more >

Link copied successfully