When a new $373 million project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Folsom Lake is finished, Folsom Dam will be three-and-a-half feet taller — and flood risk in Sacramento will hopefully be lower.
At the ceremonial groundbreaking near the Folsom Point Boat Ramp on Tuesday, Congresswoman Doris Matsui said the cost is worth it to offer residents 300 year flood protection, even though the wettest winter on record, in 2017, passed without any major stresses to the dam.
"We didn't think we even needed 100 year or 200 year [protection], but, you know, climates change. There is a climate crisis now,” Matsui said.
She added that local, state and federal agencies have been preparing for decades to get to this point. “At least we've been working on it for some time, not realizing probably the importance of what we were doing,” Matsui said.
Of the $373 million price tag, $218 million comes from federal funding.
The project will add equal increases in height to eight dikes around the lake, which will create 43,000 acre feet of new water storage. Backers of the project say the extra height and storage give the facility 300-year flood protection.
The construction of automated temperature shutters at the main dam, which is currently 480 feet high, will give workers more control over water in the lake.
“At the right times of year, fish need colder water. We can be able to hold cold water when we need it and save it when we don't,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman.
The new project follows the $900 million construction of the new spillway, which was finished in 2017, and the creation of a new set of rules for lake management.
“In the past, we went strictly off water-control manuals that said, ‘You know, at this point in time, based on conditions, we need to release water or hold water,” said Col. James Handura of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The new rules allow managers to rely on weather forecasts and available data “ based on the actual climatology,” he added.
The project also includes habitat restoration at two sites on the lower American River.
All of the work should be completed by 2025.
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