CA Dams in Desperate Need of Repair May Not Be Fixed

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This dam and reservoir can be seen in Los Angeles.
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The state of California houses over one thousand dams, having a network of approximately 1,540 dams. Of these dams hundreds are in need of much repair work, with around 42 even having restricted amounts of water allowed to be stored behind them due to safety concerns surrounding the structure of the dam. Experts expressed concerns over the risk of people, buildings, and communities as a whole that are located downstream from these dams, stating that they are in conditions in which a minor earthquake or storm could cause problems, putting people at serious risk. With this all said, due to a severe financial deficit in the state’s budget, Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a cut to the dam repair grant program that California has in place currently.

Newsom’s proposal would cut the grant program in half for the rest of the year.

This proposal is now at odds with other state leaders, who are calling to have $50 million restored to the budget. These state legislators want to get the 42 dams that have been restricted so severely to be back up to the standard they were at before. Because of the restrictions, these dams have lost around 330,000 acre-feet of storage of water. That water breaks down to the equivalent of the amount of water used by 3.6 million people per year. Legislators are hoping to bring back this water to help supply water to people and farms as well as to use the water to generate hydropower.

This proposed cut to the grant program comes just two years after Newsom instated it in the first place.

As California often deals with droughts and found itself in the midst of one of the worst this past decade, in 2022, Newsom proposed a plan to help the state in the form of dam repairs by the means of creating a grant program of $100 million to fund the repairs. In 2023, the program was formalized and being generated. Now, the program would see only $50 million. However, legislatives are holding out on releasing this money, as according to their last hearing, the full $100 million is still being accounted for in their proposed budget.

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