Oroville Dam
Water pours through the damaged primary spillway of the Oroville Dam in February 2017. Courtesy California Department of Water Resources

By Marie Waldron

Last month I toured Oroville Dam in Northern California with other legislators to get a firsthand look at repairs underway following the brush with disaster a year ago.

Fortunately for nearby residents, the completely full dam held up, though almost 200,000 people downstream were evacuated as a precaution.

Escondido has two dams, one at Lake Dixon and one at Lake Wohlford. My district also includes parts of Lake Hodges, which has a dam we see from Via de la Valle.

Dams in California are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Water Resources’ Division of Safety of Dams. In the aftermath of the Oroville spillway failure, the division has ordered spillway inspections at 93 high-risk dams.

Marie Waldron

The need for more water storage capacity was obvious to voters in 2014 when they passed Proposition 1, a $7.2 billion water bond that included $2.7 billion earmarked for new dams and reservoirs. But proposals for them are being delayed by the California Water Commission, the agency tasked with dispersing funds under the provisions of Proposition 1.

I joined a bipartisan group of legislators criticizing these delays in building 11 water projects, including the Sites Reservoir in Colusa County and the Temperance Flat Dam east of Fresno.

In light of what may be a recurring drought and deep federal cutbacks on water allocations for California farmers, more water storage projects must be approved. It’s been almost four years since passage of Proposition 1 and, to date, no new water storage projects have been approved.

A four-year delay on new water projects was clearly not what 67 percent of California’s voters had in mind when they passed the proposition. We need to expand our water storage capacity statewide, including our southern California region now — further bureaucratic delays cannot be tolerated!

Minority Floor Leader Marie Waldron represents the 75th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.