A Landmark California Plan puts floodplains back in business

From News Deeply:

SOMETHING MONUMENTAL HAPPENED on August 25 in California water management that received almost no media attention: It became official policy to reconnect the state’s major rivers with their floodplains.

The action by the Central Valley Flood Protection Board … clears the way for the state to embrace projects that allow floods to recharge groundwater. This could include projects like breaching levees, building setback levees and creating flood bypass structures so rivers can inundate historic floodplains for the first time in a century.

In short, it means rivers must no longer be confined within levees as a standard practice.

The result could be not only reduced flood risk, but reviving severely depleted groundwater aquifers, restoring wildlife habitat and improving the capabilities of existing water storage reservoirs.

These projects are a major focus of the 2017 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan, which was adopted by the Board in August.

“The plan itself is an investment strategy,” Mierzwa said. “It outlines what it is we hope to achieve in both the Sacramento and San Joaquin basins within next 30 years.”

Published by

Mark Kanazawa

I am Wadsworth A. Williams Professor of Economics at Carleton College, Northfield, MN