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Policy and a Pint: Fixing the Dams and Handling Flood Control

  • Graciano's Speakeasy 1023 Front Street Sacramento, CA, 95814 United States (map)


Listen to the podcast of this discussion.

After the epic winter of 2017, we all know what the term "atmospheric river" means, and what a "spillway" is. Now we're about to learn more about the state of our aging levees and crumbling dams; how (or if) they can be repaired; how much will that all cost; and who's supposed to pay that particular water bill.

We put together a good group of panelists who know their buttress dams from their spur dykes. They tell us what repairs are needed to our massive flood-control system to keep the Central Valley from turning back into the inland sea it used to be. They also discuss what local and state government agencies have planned in case we go back to a bone-dry, Dust Bowl-style drought.

We held this event in the basement of Graciano's Speakeasy, a former governor's mansion/grocery store/brothel/Prohibition speakeasy in Old Sacramento. The basement is at the level where our city used to stand before the Great Flood of 1862, the biggest in California's recorded history, made officials use a lot of packed dirt to raise the buildings a minimum of 14 feet. The perfect place to have a pint and talk about flood control.


* James Gallagher, California Assemblyman representing the 3rd District, which includes the Oroville Dam
* Leslie Gallagher, executive officer of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board
* Brent Hastey, director of the Yuba County Water Agency, and a board director for the Association of California Water Agencies
* Jay Lund, executive director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis
* Michael Mierzwa, lead flood management planner at the California Department of Water Resources