Reliable Water Supply from Variable Sources: Dams and Reservoirs

Today, in many places, the greatest threat to a reliable source of clean water is not climate or a growing population, but rather politicians who block infrastructure projects, build them to benefit cronies rather than their constituents, and, in the crazier corners of the nutty nations, tear down perfectly fine irrigation, flood control, and hydroelectric generation dams to “protect the environment”.


I live just down the road from the Oroville dam (in Chico, California). We had a front seat view to the spillway failure Grady documented on this channel. The levels in the Oroville dam are actually significantly above last year (you can see the daily measurements here).

One of the most frustrating things in California is that we’ve doubled our population without increasing water storage even though Shasta dam was designed to be raised another 18.5 feet when needed, and we’ve voted multiple times for bonds to pay for off-river storage. And nothing has been done to make those projects happen even though it’s desperately needed.

San Diego water district went ahead and built its own extra storage, and yet Governor Brown was set to fine them if they didn’t follow state mandates to reduce water usage, even though they had plenty.


Speaking of Lake Mead: