Jerry Brown’s California Legacy is a Dam Failure
The Oroville Dam — at 770 feet, America’s tallest — is on the verge of failing. And Sacramento, which has been fiddling for decades while Rome burns, is running for cover.
This isn’t just any dam; it’s the primary storage facility located on the Feather River for the State Water Project, the state-owned conveyance system that provides drinking water to more than two-thirds of California’s population.
If the dam were to fail, it could inundate not only the city of Oroville but numerous other communities downstream, including Yuba City, Marysville and even West Sacramento.
At the moment, the emergency spillway is being used for the first time since Governor Ronald Reagan approved its construction, and almost 200,000 people have been evacuated.
What’s Governor Jerry Brown doing?
The same thing he’s been doing for decades — obstructing progress. California has been so busy defying President Donald Trump in order to protect illegal aliens from deportation that it forgot to do the things government is supposed to do, like maintain infrastructure. Governor Brown is now going hat-in-hand to beg the Trump administration for emergency funds.
According to Breitbart News sources, the Trump administration is already closely monitoring the situation, and has dispatched personnel and made contingency plans to aid California in the event of a catastrophic dam failure.
But it’s during the seven dry years — the extended drought — that the state should have fixed its water infrastructure, like dams and canals. Brown and his merry band of Democrats had different priorities, like high-speed rail, benefits for illegal aliens, and unsustainable pensions.
The reality is that Sacramento was warned over and over again. Just a few years back, environmentalists raised concerns that an earthquake could degrade the massive earthen rockfill dam. Sacramento just chose to ignore those concerns — and to spend the money on other priorities.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, it was “(t)hree environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — [who] filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.”
It’s ironic that the same environmentalists who have opposed every new dam project were the ones who raised the alarm.
Countless proposals have been floated over the past two decades to fund infrastructure out of the general fund, and prioritize critically needed upgrades to dams, roads and bridges. But Sacramento spends a pittance out of it’s $180 billion budget on infrastructure, and most of that is earmarked for the abysmal roads and a crumbling intrastate highway system.
But there is one thing Gov. Brown has done in cooperation with federal officials regarding infrastructure. A little over a year ago, Brown signed off on an agreement to tear down dams on the Klamath River.
Yes, you can’t make this stuff up.
Brown did finally have his “rainy day” fund approved by voters in 2016. Yet California — the so-called sustainable state — has refused to maintain its infrastructure in order to sustain its way of life. Now the “rainy day” they’d hoped to avoid is here.
God be with all those in the pathway of potential destruction.
Tim Donnelly is a former California State Assemblyman.
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Photo credit: Josh Edelson / Getty