More about Temperance Flat

My goal in writing about proposed dams and storage facilites is never to go along blindly with another river-wrecking project like Friant Dam. That dam robbed Stocktonians of their right to a healthy river.

But the proposed Temperance Flat project is bad because it simply doesn’t pencil out. Friends of the River consultant Steve Evans has more: 

“(There is a) rule of thumb to determine water yield from dams (7 to 1). … Dam developers are vigorously colliding with the law of diminishing returns when it comes to building more dams on rivers that already have several dams.
“So you would expect the TFD, which will be capable of storing 1,331,000 acre feet of water would yield 190,000 acre feet for consumptive purposes under the 7 to 1 rule. But according to the Bureau, the TFD will yield a maximum of 76,000 acre feet of consumptive supplies (that’s 17 to1).
“Why? Because more 9 major dams on the San Joaquin and its tributaries already capture about 98% of the flow of the river, and before the San Joaquin River Restoration Program, all of this water was diverted out of the river.”
What’s dismaying about the Temperance Flat propsal is not only its poor economics but the air of politics that hangs over what should be impartial analysis. If Jeffrey Michael’s analysis is right, the Bureau of Reclamation exaggerated the dam’s benefits. The Bureau should be pressed to develop better storage ideas than this poor investment, and to do so objectively. Regulatory enablers are the reason the Delta is dying in the first place.

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  • Blog Author

    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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