Folsom Dam is key to flood prevention in the region

By: Rep. Dan Lungren, Guest Opinion
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Recently, I returned to Folsom Dam for a briefing and tour of the security enhancements being implemented. I try to get a briefing on progress at Folsom Dam frequently because I know how important flood control and dam security are to the Sacramento region I serve. I was pleased to see firsthand the hard work that is currently being done to help improve protection for the hundreds of thousands down river from the dam. When the new spillway with its control structure, which is actually another dam, is complete it will address dam safety and improve flood protection. This joint protect, which began in 2008 by the Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers, is the first time two federal agencies have come together on a project of this size and importance. The recent news of flooding in the Gulf States from hurricane-turned-tropical-depression Isaac is an ominous reminder of the catastrophic flooding risk we all face right here at home. Once Isaac made landfall, the amount of rain unleashed threatened hundreds of thousands of people forcing them to evacuate their homes. New Orleans’ new and improved flood defenses held up well, however the levee system further away from the city could not handle the volume of water and flooding ensued. In the midst of all the important issues facing the nation and our region, flooding remains the 800-pound gorilla in the room. The Sacramento region continues to be the most at-risk metropolitan area in the country with far less overall protection than New Orleans had in 2005 during Katrina. In addition to the natural hazards of being immediately upstream from the convergence of two mighty rivers during the rainy season, Folsom Dam must be protected from man-made or terrorist-like threats. Improvements are being made, work is in progress on our levees, but much more has to be done. The safety of the Sacramento region is at stake.