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Member since: Thu Jul 26, 2007, 04:26 PM
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California Water Project

The California Water Plan (1957) - Bulletin No. 3 was a plan to harness all the wild Rivers of California (including the Klamath and Smith) in a system of Reservoirs and tunnels and power plants. Dams built under this plan included Shasta, Trinity, Oroville, Keswick, Lewiston, Whiskeytown, etc. Governor Ed Brown was a political supporter of the Plan and Governor during most of the construction that did occur.

The argument then as now was the North versus the monied special interests of the South.

Back in the 1980s there was a plan to raise Shasta Dam and relocate the Shasta Lake communities and Interstate 5. Importing Columbia River water via a pipeline along the interstate 5 corridor has also been mentioned but is at least politically infeasible between the two Sates.


Too many people live and too much industry and agriculture occur that are dependent on imported water.

Ground water has also been "mined" extensively.

Soils have been farmed and "salted", subsided, or eroded (by wind in the Delta area).

A good read about water in the West is Reisner's Cadillac Desert.


>>The State Water Project is Born

The Burns-Porter Act, formally known as the California Water Resources Development Bond Act, was placed on the November 1960 ballot. Also known as Proposition One, its chances for passage were unpredictable. Heated and continuous negotiations were still ongoing, with MWD withholding its endorsement until days before the election. The San Francisco Chronicle strongly opposed the proposition. California’s North-South regional rivalry was a strong factor in the election.

picture of political cartoon that appeared in the San Francisco ChronicleThe San Francisco Chronicle was among the Project's strongest opponents and urged its readers to vote down the bond issue.

On November 8, the Burns-Porter Act was narrowly approved by the slim margin of 173,944 votes from about 5.8 million ballots counted. Only one northern county supported the proposition--Butte County, site of Oroville Dam. But one fact was certain, construction was soon to begin on what is now the nation's largest state-built water and power development and distribution system, which would forever change the face and future of a once virgin land.

Construction Begins

picture of 1956 floods1956 was a devastating flood year.

Construction on the Oroville site actually began even before the passage of the Burns-Porter Act. A $25 million emergency appropriation was passed in 1957 after a record late 1955-early 1956 flood, which devastated Northern and Central California. Statewide, 64 deaths were recorded, most in Sutter County and Yuba City, and more than $200 million of property damage.

picture of Governor Ed Brown at groungbreaking ceremonyGovernor Edmond Brown at Oroville groundbreaking ceremony.

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