Tag Archives: levees


( – promoted by Robert in Monterey)

Rain falling on the skylight and roof, taps fluttering in waves.

The cool wet smell of new rain, so unfamiliar after the long dry summer and fall.

The drops of rain hanging heavily like dew on the leaves of plants, and the eaves in front of my window.

The long slow hiss of car tires on wet roads in the distance.

The sigh of relief, the hope that maybe this dry spell is safely over.

California is a bipolar state when it comes to water, doubly so here in the axle-pivot of the Central Valley. One year the rains never seem to end, and the century-old levees groan with the floodwaters, suburban sprawl waiting nervously on the other side of those earthen mounds for news of a breach, sandbags at the ready. Everyone pontificates for the cameras on the need for better flood protection.

The next year, the interminable waiting for that one big storm to materialize eventually withers into acceptance that the rain is not going to come, the forests dry to a crisp, reservoirs recede, leaving bathtub rings – memories of old storms – in their wake. Tentative conservation preparations are quietly made without jinxing things by announcing an official drought, everything contingent on how the next year goes. Everyone pontificates for the cameras on the need for water storage.

In truth, both flood and drought are tied together as a consequence of both our bipolar El Niño/La Niña climate and the geography of the Central Valley, the Sierras and the Delta. Before American settlement and subsequent terraforming – the draining of swamps, the diverting of water to canals, the erection of levees and dams – the valley had a certain syncopated rhythm to it:

As the rains fell, the seasonal wetlands of the valley, fed by the streams of the Sierra and coastal range alike, pooled and flooded into a shifting network of marshes and temporary lakes; in wet years it would occasionally turn the Delta into a huge inland sea, until the water eventually drained out to the Bay. Local Native American tribes such as the Patwin made boats out of bundled tule reeds and paddled around in them, fishing in the teeming waters. As spring came, flocks of migrating birds, of which the ones you see along the Causeway are but a shadow, stopped by to rest in those waters. As the spring rains finally subsided, the wetlands dried into fields of tule grass, and the flow of the rivers slowed, fed at lower levels by the Sierra meltwaters. The Patwin retreated up the creeks back into the valleys of the coastal range, as the searing Central Valley summers began, and  their sources of water dried up.

When American settlers remade the Valley to suit the needs of a sedentary population, large scale agriculture and industry, a fundamental tension between a static civilization and a dynamic ecosystem came into being. Rivers were straightened and rerouted to respect property lines, roads and cities, valley clay was pushed up into levees to control floods, and in so doing the rivers lost much of their ability to cushion the force of a spring flood. The islands of the Delta were walled in and converted to agriculture, while the shifting flow of waters that made it such a rich ecosystem were diverted by canals over the centuries to water the fields of the San Joaquin valley and the lawns of Southern California, and in so doing have brought the Delta to ecological collapse. The rivers of the foothills, both in the coastal range and in the Sierra Nevada, were stopped up, their valleys turned into lakes and their waters diverted to cities and farms, and in so doing decimated the numbers of migrating fish such as salmon, which once choked the Sacramento River with their yearly migration to their mountain spawning grounds. The new cities and farms that these changes enabled created sunk demands not only on the water itself, but also on the cost of maintaining an ever-increasing network of protections and public works, so as to freeze the landscape in accordance with maps and city planning, and in so doing made the very dynamic equilibrium of the past hydrulic system into an expensive problem to be solved.

I am not an idealist here; we cannot go back to the status quo ante, not with everything that has been built, not with all the people who now depend upon that infrastructure’s maintainance. But we can at least admit that our insecurity with regard to the weather – putting aside for a moment the even greater threat of human-created climate change and its consequences for our civilization and ecosystem – is in large part a dilemma of our own making. We froze the landscape, we diverted the rivers, we remade the very lay of the land in service of the settling of California; and yet imperfectly, as the erratic swing of flood and drought reminds us, humbles us, from time to time.

As we debate how to best manage this environment that we have shaped for ourselves, it would be wise to consider the unintended consequences of our previous rounds of terraforming and meddling, and make our future steps with more care. Static systems will eventually collapse under the relentless dynamism of the natural world, or else require massive amounts of time, money and effort to defend. Would it not be far better to try to work with those natural processes than continue stacking stones and driftwood across streams like children, and then throwing tantrums when they do not hold back the water?

I am not convinced that the solution to California’s perennial water wars is another round of dams, canals, and demands on already-faltering hydraulic systems and fragile ecosystems. If the Delta collapses, the waves will lap upon the Bay Area, the Central Valley and Southern California alike. Better in the long run to first work on reducing our profligate use of water, start treating it like the precious resource that it is, and try to find ways of living within our ecological and hydrological means. First and foremost, that entails accepting that we live in a flood-to-drought climate as a normal state, and not treating it like a unexpected crisis when the rain falls, or doesn’t fall. California has not properly accounted for its water, and working out a sustainable way forward should require sacrifice and accomodation from everyone who makes use of it, urban residents, industry, and farmers alike. Noone should go bust because of the changes, and yet noone should fail to put their shoulders to the wheel either. It is time to face the reality that it is pragmatic to build systems with the environment in mind, and the height of pie-in-the-sky idealism to assume that we are omnipotent to force whatever changes that we want in the natural world without consequence.

The sound of the rain tonight is calming, reassuring, but it should not lull us back into complacence.

The Real Collectionator

Hannah-Beth Jackson brought up one of my favorite ways to needle Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that is to talk about his overblown self-appointed title of “Collectionator”.  He said he was going to go to Washington and use his relationship with the president and the then Republican Congress to bring back some of the $50 billion in tax dollars that Californians send to DC, but rarely receive back.  Arnold has been an abject failure in that regard.

That title really should go to Barbara Boxer.  Chron:

Sen. Barbara Boxer of California is giving her constituents a textbook example of the power a single senior senator can wield, using her new post chairing the Environment and Public Works Committee to add generously to the amount of money the state stands to get for water and flood control projects.

In all, California accounts for about $1.4 billion of the estimated $13.9 billion in projects authorized under the Water Resources Development Act passed 91-4 Wednesday by the Senate. At about 10 percent of the total, California ranks second only to flood- and hurricane-ravaged Louisiana, which accounts for 25 percent of the total.

Can I just say…wooohooo.  And it is about damn time, especially for those of us living in the Central Valley.

For California — a state whose leaders complain regularly about sending far more to Washington in federal tax dollars than the state gets back — the experience in the water legislation represents a positive reversal of fortune.

By the time the bill, the first such water program legislation to get this far in Congress in seven years, was wrapped up in Boxer’s committee, hundreds of millions of dollars for specific California projects had been added. What’s more, many other projects in the state were added to the bill without specific funding totals, making them eligible for future appropriations. And the bill called for federal studies of several other potential water projects.

“We have a lot of important projects in here because we have so many needs,” said Boxer, who has served on the committee in the minority and the majority since coming to the Senate in 1993. She became chairwoman after Democrats took control of Congress in November.

Way to go BB!  Now, I hope you can steer this through the Senate floor, get it through the House and somehow convince the President to sign it.  DiFi should be able to give you an assist with her chairmanship of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on the interior and the environment.

P.S. Why the heck did the Chron feel like they needed to rehash the dumb as bricks non-controversy over the $25 million for the Port of San Francisco.  They really should have included the response from the Port if they were going to talk about it at all.  Just because there are two sides, that does not mean you need to give them equal time.

Central Valley Water News Roundup + Fabian Nuñez haiku

(originally at surf putah – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

One of the upsides to the unusually dry winter and spring that we’ve had this past year in California is that it gives us a bit of much-needed breathing room to try and figure out how we’re going to avoid becoming Katrina West the next time the floodwaters get high enough. My fears back in the fall about the levees not being repaired by the time the rain started falling in earnest thankfully proved wrong. That being said, water control is always an issue in this state, and the scale and complexity of the problems we face pretty much guarantee that it’s always on the table for discussion, somewhere or another. In recent water-related news:

West Sacramento’s levees have seepage problems of the same sort that threaten the houses sitting behind the Natomas levees, and thus might not be as stable as previously assumed. The good news is that those problems were discovered when the city proactively started taking core samples from its levees. Far better to find out in advance than just keep building houses behind them and find out when the levee blows in the middle of the night in some winter storm.

On the west side of Yolo County, I agree with County Supe Matt Rexroad that having a flood control expert on hand is a good thing for Yolo County and the city of Woodland, even if we might not necessarily agree on the best means to solve the problem. Woodland got pretty close to flooding last year, it’s a good idea to have a full-time expert working on it.

Moving south towards the delta,  the Chronicle reported a couple of days ago that Judge Frank Roesch has ordered that the pumps in Tracy that send water to East Bay and SoCal communities and farms either find a way to operate them without killing endangered species or shut down. This is on top of the ongoing discussions of how to come up with a framework to deal with the gordian knot of delta levees, water exports and floodplain development that Cal Fed hasn’t been able to solve.

Going east towards the foothills, Bayne of Blog recently blogged about Sacramento Congressman Dan Lungren moving towards calling for to be drained and restored. Usually a cause of environmentalist groups going back to ur-naturalist John Muir himself, the conservative Republican congressman seems to honestly be interested in the possibility of restoring the scenic valley in his district. While San Francisco officials oppose the move, UCD science blog Egghead reports that a recent Masters Thesis by UCD Geology grad student Sarah Null argues that the same water flow could be maintained without the dam.

While it’s not actually Central Valley levees under discussion, meterology blogger Jeff Masters over at Weather Underground has a couple of posts up (1, 2)reviewing what went wrong with New Orleans’ levee system that are worth a read. The Army Corps of Engineers do not come out looking very good, to say the least. Always worth a read.

Finally (ok, this last bit’s a bit of a stretch, but the rice is grown with irrigation, so it kind of relates), Hank Shaw from the Stockton Record has coverage of the pre-match trash-haiku’ing between Mike Villines and Fabian Nuñez about the upcoming Great Sushi Roll-off. Nuñez’s haiku?

Sushi challenge on
The public very happy
We aren’t naked chefs

Land-locked Clovis man
Makes worst Republican Rice
Since Condoleeza

Núñez sushi wins
Feral cats at Capitol
Reject Villines’ swill

Who knew Fabian was a poet?

A “Far-Left” Manifesto for Yolo County

(Surf Putah, which you will find in the California friends of our blogroll, is a great site for Yolo Cty. politics. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Well, I’ve made the cut, having been linked in the “Yolo Blogs” category over at Republican Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad’s new website (which looks quite nice, really). Along with the link (a good web resource for Yolo County in its own right), Rexroad gave this site this little introduction:

If you want to know what the people at the far end of the spectrum in Davis are doing….surf Putah.  I really can’t explain this stuff. Generally, if you find an opinion expressed here Matt Rexroad will be on the other side.

Since I’ve been identified as the far end of the spectrum, I figure that it’s as good a time as any to lay out what us inexplicable far-out Davisites are thinking about Yolo County. Ironically enough, I find myself to the center, or at least in a slightly different direction, from many self-defined “progressives” here in Davis, especially on the issue of development, the axis which city politics seems, rightly or wrongly, to revolve around. Mostly, though, I find that the perpetual battle over political labels to be a fairly useless one, since it assumes a coherent binary political debate, when in fact things tend to be far more complex in real life. I believe that governments ought to balance their budgets responsibly, instead of borrowing and spending with bond measures; am I a conservative? I believe that people generally ought to mind their own business, and that government and religious beliefs are best kept separate where neither can mess the other up; am I a liberal? I believe that all people are created equal, and ought to be treated as such; am I a progressive?

So for the benefit of both Rexroad and those who might follow his link to my site I’ll toss out where this inexplicable far-left blogger would like to see Yolo County headed:

1. Making it possible for Yolo farmers and ranchers to make a decent living, so that they can grow crops instead of subdivisions. The reasons why it is getting harder and harder for small farmers and ranchers to get by are complex, and the roots of the problem more often than not lie well outside of Yolo County. And yet, preserving a healthy and locally-rooted agricultural industry is something that should be central to any vision of a future Yolo County. Protecting farmland from development by easements, or buyouts is one way to help curb development pressure on productive ag land, but it is perhaps more important to ease the market pressures of falling agricultural commodity prices and rising fuel and other operating costs. Encouraging fuel-intensive or alternate fuel usage, aided by ag research over at UC Davis, might help to insulate Yolo agriculture from rising gas prices. Requiring school lunches to preference local farmers and ranchers might help to provide more demand for those products. Teaching gardening in elementary school, as they do at Fairfield Elementary school out in the county, might help to diminish the urban-rural split as well, and give our kids more appreciation for the folks who grow their food.Encouraging new agricultural industries in the county to replace the loss of all those closed tomato canneries in the past decade would help too.

Ultimately, reversing the decades-long national policy of free trade deals that flood domestic markets with foreign imports, and national policies that encourage overproduction are the real key to saving the family farm. Food is one thing, like military technology, that is a bad idea to rely on foreign imports for. We shouldn’t be flying walnuts in all the way from China when we can grow them out perfectly well in Winters.

2. Keeping development off the floodplain, and strengthening the flood control measures where we have already built close to rivers. The Yolo Bypass is a sound approach to the long-term pressures of river systems and seasonal flooding, and Yolo County has been smarter than many counties in this regard. Woodland desperately needs some way of guarding against winter flooding on Cache Creek, and hopefully some hydraulically sound solution will be found in the next couple of years, whether it be stronger levees or some bypass channel upstream of town. While the pressure for more housing is and will continue to be acute because of population growth (more on that below), we need to be steadfast about avoiding Natomas-style floodplain sprawl, because the moment any houses are built there we will collectively be liable for paying for their protection, indefinitely. In places such as West Sacramento, where flooding will always be a problem, we need to make sure that their levees are hardened to withstand severe flooding.

3. Providing adequate housing so that the children of Yolo residents can afford to actually live in their hometowns. This is one area where I part ways with many Davis progressives, in that I do not believe that a no growth or even slow growth model is either smart or just. When a town limits its housing stock like Davis has done, it might preserve the population size of ther town, but the nature of the community cannot but change with the skyrocketing housing prices. As long as people continue to have children, as long as the university increases its student and professorial population (which it will, since it is tied to state demographic growth), and as long as people want to move into this county of ours, we are going to have to have reasonable housing options. Yolo County has both one of the higher rates of growth in the state as well as one of the higher birthrates. All those people are going to have to find somewhere to live.

My sense is that we’d be better off encouraging the cities of Yolo county to start urbanizing in their downtown cores, close to the highways and train stations, to at bare minimum a level of density that our cities reached at the turn of the 19th century (the tallest buildings in most Yolo towns are perversely often the oldest ones). Build up a couple stories, get some people in those downtowns, and then get the downtowns built up along walkable, new urbanist lines, so that people don’t have to drive everywhere just to go about everyday life. This will allow more housing to be efficiently defended by floodwalls where floods threaten, and it should make room for many Yoloites who are currently priced out of even renting here anymore, let alone own houses. Additionally, when suburban housing is built, aim for smaller lots and smaller two story houses the way you used to see in the 20s and 30s, instead of the spread-out ranch tract housing that uses land as if it’s still cheap. Land is expensive, and denser housing makes better and more economical use of that land. And enough already with the huge luxury mcmansion developments for out of towners.

4. Support more small businesses to fulfill city needs, avoid big box megastores. As I wrote during the Measure K debate last November, there is a need for more and better retail in Yolo County, especially here in luxury boutique-saturated downtown Davis, but that we ought to be encouraging small and locally owned businesses to fulfill those needs rather than inviting big box retailers in to suck up the whole market, and siphon that revenue out of the county to some out of state corporate headquarters. Far too often it is posed as a false choice between the status quo and big box megastores, when in fact a third way is possible. One of the problems is that commercial rent is far too high in Davis, but as best as can be done, the city governments and county government should work to ease whatever barriers to starting businesses exist for small local businesses.

5. While this might be seen by some as working at cross-purposes to #4, we really need a living wage for the county, to say nothing of the über-expensive city of Davis as well. People who work in town ought to be able to afford to live in the same communities, or failing that, in the county. While the statewide minimum wage hike of $7.50 goes partway, a hike to a living wage of $10 or higher would help a great deal, and lessen the class segregation that we get when rents get so rediculously high. Living wage ordinances in other towns have shown that they don’t destroy the local economy as predicted, and that the recipients of those wages tend to plough most of that money back into the local economy, creating a virtuous economic cycle. Finally, a living wage is simply the right thing to do, since anybody who works hard every day at a job, any job, deserves the dignity of being able to make ends meet.

6. Along with this, since the National and State governments seem incapable of getting universal health insurance passed, we need to find some way of at least covering children, from prenatal through delivery and child medical care. A significant number of the working poor in Yolo County either are children or have children, and helping to cover the often exorbitant costs of child healthcare would not only go a long way towards lessening that burden on those families (in effect, a net wage raise), it would also help to guarantee that those children got adequate health care, immunizations and so on. This in turn helps to limit problems for the county down the road dealing with epidemics and overtaxed emergency rooms. Disease does not recognize any difference between rich or poor, insured or uninsured, citizen or immigrant; we’ve all seen how quickly a cold or flu can move through an elementary school or a daycare.

Anyone who claims to be in favor of family values ought to be willing to help make sure that people don’t get bankrupted by the costs of giving birth, let alone raising a kid. It is in our best interest personally as well as as a societally to make sure that these kids are covered, at least until the state and federal government get their acts together and get something funded. Since Yolo is a fairly poor county government-wise, this will have to be a fairly bare bones plan without accompanying state funding, not unlike any serious levee solutions. Assemblywoman Wolk, we’re counting on you to help talk some sense into the Governor.

7. More state parks. We have in this county both beautiful hiking up in the hills to the west of us, as well as a beautiful river to the east. Why there aren’t more state parks or recreational infrastructure helping people to get to them is beyond me.

8. The reestablishment of the old interurban train network in the Central Valley. The Capitol Corridor has been a great success since its inception a decade ago, but relatively little work has been done to apply the same logic to the Valley itself, and try and link the cities and towns of the Sacramento Valley together like they once were abnout a century ago, before the rise of auto-fueled sprawl. The old train lines are still there, connecting most cities up and down the valley to Sacramento, and yet they sit virtually unused for commuter traffic. Fixing them up a bit and running basic commuter lines on them would help to take traffic pressure off the highway system, and help us to accomodate what population growth the region will see in the decades to come. It also uses a lot more fuel, which brings us to the next point:

9. Countywide efforts at conservation and alternative energy. As our populations grow, and global warming gives us hotter, dryer summers, we will see increased stresses on our water and electric usage. As peak oil runs hard into increasing global demands for fuel, gasoline and natural gas are going to persistantly rise in price, hurting commuters, farmers and businesses alike. We should be getting ahead of the curve by working to lower our communities’ water and energy footprints, and thus our exposure to price increases and shortages. Having UCD’s stellar environmental engineering research at the ready is a huge advantage; let’s take advantage of it.

10. A justice system that treats all Yolo residents as equal members of their communities, that serves and protects Black and Latino citizens as well as White citizens. Doug Paul Davis over at the Davis Vanguard has done such great reporting on this issue that I won’t try to duplicate it, but rest assured our police forces and justice system need serious revamping on the issues of racial profiling and how we combat crime in general. While gang violence is real, criminalizing an entire neighborhood, as was done in West Sacramento, seems to me to violate the rights of the very citizens that our justice system is ostensibly supposed to protect. Likewise, while out of towners commit crimes in town, treating huge swathes of our community as perpetual suspects does real and lasting harm to the community as a whole. We can do better.


So there you have it, one Yoloite’s “far-left” take on things. While I expect that Matt and I disagree on several of these issues, i’m not sure that he and I are diametrically opposed on all of them. Statewide and nationally, however, I suspect that our political differences are clearer and less common ground possible to reach. I leave the question of whether the above opinions are way off the end of the spectrum up to the reader.

(originally posted at surf putah

Still Working On Those Levees…

(The levees should see some money out of the bond packages. Problem is that we have to wait for the legislature and governor to allocate those funds. That must be the top priority. Also, check out wu ming’s blog, Surf Putah – promoted by SFBrianCL)

An article in yesterday’s Chronicle suggests that we could be in for another nail-biter of a winter storm season. While the bond measures thankfully passed, the funds won’t be available until next June, while repairs on last year’s erosion damage are still ongoing, and running out of time before the rains start:

More than one month into California’s flood season, engineers are scrambling to repair 71 deeply eroded spots that water officials worry could lead to collapse of the delta’s levee system, which protects more than 500,000 people and property valued at $47 billion.

The nearly unprecedented repair efforts — such work is generally not done this close to winter, when weather is bad and water levels high — come after the state spent the summer and $176 million strengthening 33 other sites it feared could lead to levee breaches when battered by winter storms.

“I expected at this point in time to be patting everybody on the back saying we solved the erosion problems for the year,” said Les Harder, deputy director for public safety for the state Department of Water Resources. “Instead, we now have another 71 to do. We’re actually further behind than when we started.”

High floodwater levels in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin watersheds lasted well into the late spring, making both surveys below the waterline and repairing storm damage difficult. To make things worse, we still don’t really know what the levee system is actually made of, although the state hs begun frantically taking core samples from urban levees (the government of West Sac had the sense earlier this fall to start doing the job on its own, instead of waiting for the state to get around to it).

At least Lois Wolk is looking a bit ahead to dealing with the root cause of the problem (ie. sprawl in the floodplain), with land use restrictions:

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, whose district includes major parts of the delta, favors a similar distribution formula where areas of highest population and risk get first attention. But she also insists land-use rules need to change.

“We need to create good policies that don’t put more people at risk,” Wolk said. “Development continues where it should not be — behind these eroding piles of dirt. No one should be under the illusion that everything is fine.”

Of course, the Water Reclamation Board got fired by Schwarzeneggar last summer when they made the same suggestions on reining in development in the floodplain, and were replaced with developer-friendly types. Here’s hoping Arnold v. 5.0 will pay attention a little better than v 3.0 did, before Natomas or Rio Vista looks like this:

In related news, the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency is considering charging fees on urban development and using the revenue to purchase development rights on adjacent ag land in Yolo and Sutter counties to prevent development in the floodplain, in hopes of preserving the current hydraulic system in a manner similar to the Yolo Bypass. By preserving ag land adjacent to the Sacramento River, floodwaters past a certain level would be drawn away by weirs and other waterworks, and allowed to flood fields in exchange for payments to farmers. The idea sounds good, and the fact that Sacramento is pursuing it is great news for Yolo County, which as a small county simply doesn’t have the resources to fund the same sort of easements or flood protection. In the future, if we’re smart, government will do more of this sort of thing, thinking in terms of hydrological watersheds instead of artificial county boundaries.

In his book The Retreat of the Elephants about Chinese premodern environmental history, Historian Mark Elvin makes a strong case for the dangers of relying upon massive levee systems to defend urban centers, and the problems that occur when manmade defenses against water encourage more development behind  levees, when combined with the inevitable decline of those hydraulic systems over time, and the natural propensity for rivers to silt up, change course, erode their banks, etc. Before an area is developed and levees established, it is easier to set aside open areas such as the Yolo Bypass to lessen water bottlenecks during a flood, but that once those areas are built in, the whole economy ends up locked into a system that is expensive to maintain, and which tend to get underfunded and neglected until the next disasterous system failure.

We cannot change the way that the Sacramento River drains through the Central Valley, and we can’t do much about the cities that already exist, but getting smarter about developing on higher ground, concentrating growth in well-defended urban centers, and hardening the levees we have, are well within our grasp, should there be the political will to resist selling out to developer interests for short term political gain. While “no growth” is not a reasonable solution, smart growth, especially in a region so vulnerable to flooding, should be a no-brainer.

Now let’s all cross our fingers and hope that this winter doesn’t send us a pineapple express to rain on the snowpack, like has happened in past El Niño years.

Originally posted at Surf Putah

California Blog Roundup, 5/8/06

Today’s California Blog Roundup is on the flip. Teasers: infrastructure bonds and the governor’s race, just the governor’s race, CA-50, CA-04, CA-11, immigration, CA-45, auto insurance, levees.

Infrastructure Bonds

Gubernatorial Race


15% Doolittle / CA-04


Paid-For Pombo / CA-11

The Rest

Flood Fears Fade: What about the Levees?

The flood season is over, or so it seems:

Typically, flood season runs from the first of November through about mid- April, Hinojosa said; this year, heavy storms continued right up to Easter, and the threat along the San Joaquin River has lingered.

Now, however, the Sacramento River system is running well below the “monitor” and “flood” stages, with plenty of room to accommodate water from snow melting in the Sierra.
Sacramentals need not fear a flood from all the melting snow, Hinojosa said. Reservoirs and river channels in the Sacramento River system, which includes the American and Feather rivers, have plenty of space for conveying the oncoming water flows.(SacBee 4/28/06)

Now, the only remaining question is whether the state and federal governement will return to its ostrich-like stance on the levees (“Uhh…sure they’ll hold…let’s talk about my plan to ban E-D drugs from the prisons”).  They still need work so that we don’t have the “next New Orleans” on our hands.

Listening Governator Schwarzenegger?

California Blog Roundup, 4/25/06

Today’s California Blog Roundup is on the flip. Teasers: the independent expenditure campaign for Angelides, a bit more on the Angelides/Westly matchup, Governor Schwarzenegger’s manifest and multitudinous failings, the import of CA-50 and the Republican swift-boating of Francine Busby, more 15% Doolittle and his defenders moral relativism, Paid-For Pombo’s self-dealing and propaganda, and some miscellaneous commentary I found interesting on Di-Fi, Bush’s visit, California Senate Staffers, etc.

The Angelides / Westly Matchup

Governor Schwarzenegger


  • Chris Bowers at MyDD ponders whether a Busby win in the runoff would be a harbinger for realignment, and whether a loss would indicate the opposite.
  • Francine Busby responds to the Republican swiftboat-style ads in CA-50. Turns out those ads are pretty much all lies and distortions. Whoda thunk it?
  • Words Have Power notes that the NRCC, which is paying for the ad, seems to have no-one able to comment on it. Apparently the ad sprang organically from the Republican party infrastructure in the dark of night (rather like a mushroom).

15% Doolittle / CA-04

Paid-For Pombo / CA-11


California Blog Roundup, 4/19/06

Today’s California Blog Roundup is on the flip. Teasers: No cash for levees, Bush visits, Arnold photo-ops, clean money, minimum wage, education, public health, Rovism resurfaces, Paid-For Pombo, outside influence in CA-11, CA-50.

P.S. Yr. Humble Editor will be unavailable for several days; the Blog Roundup will return on Monday.

Pot-Pourri is at the top today


Paid-For Pombo / CA-11


Flooding Imminent?

The SacBee just released a story saying that the governor has been put on notice about pending flooding in Northern California:

A state water official told Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday that “one of the top-five weather seasons on record” has put California on the precipice of a flood disaster.

“All of our reservoirs are full, and we are not able to contain all the water,” Les Harder, deputy director of the state Department of Water Resources, told the governor during a briefing at the department’s Flood Operations Center. “So the river system, and the levee system, is being taxed beyond its designed capacity.” (Sac Bee 4/10/06)

The Governor also put seven counties on a state of emergency.  I think now is a time to push both federal funding and state funding for levee repairs.  Look, we couldn’t pass an infrastructre bond package because the parties can’t work together.  Fine.  But the least we should be able to do is agree on the fact that the state of the levees is untenable.  At this point, it is only a matter of time until we have a major disaster.

Of course, even additional funding for the levees doesn’t answer the long-term problem.  We need to reconsider how we build in flood-prone areas.  The Delta region may just not be able to support a massive spread-out population.  Developers keep pushing growth on vulnerable areas and the state never stops to consider where we are going to divert all the water in case of a major flood.  So, where does all that water go now that the reservoirs are full?  Beats the hell out of me.

The time to answer these questions is now.