In California, a Move to Ease the Pressures on Aging Dams

Moving some of the state’s 13,000 miles of levees back from rivers to make floodplains would allow dam operators to release more water without endangering population centers. Water percolating down through the flooded land would also help recharge aquifers, which, having been severely depleted by pumping for agriculture, are subject to a new state groundwater law requiring that they eventually be made sustainable. And the flooding could restore some of the fish and wildlife habitat that existed in California’s interior valleys before intensive farming began a century ago.

But as with everything else involving water in California, the subject of augmenting the state’s so-called gray infrastructure of concrete dams, aqueducts and other structures with floodplains and other “green” infrastructure, including better-managed…

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