The California Department of Water Resources' first 2024 water release from the Lake Oroville flood control gates down the 3,000-foot main spillway in Butte County, California. (Photo: California Department of Water Resources)

By Natalie Willis, Reporter, Valley Ag Voice

As a pair of atmospheric storms near California, Congressman David Valadao addressed the House Floor on Jan. 31, calling for increased water storage. According to Valadao, the severity of flooding in 2023 underscores the importance of increasing coordination among federal agencies for disaster relief.  

“Just last year, after three years of exceptional drought, our state was hit with enough water to supply farms, communities, and homes for years to come. Unfortunately, extreme environmentalists and Sacramento bureaucrats have denied the approval of new water storage projects and restricted how much we’re able to pump with complex and contradictory regulations,” Valadao said.  

The congressman remarked that not enough work has been done in the Central Valley to better prepare for a consecutive wet year. 

“Many of my constituents are still picking up the pieces from this flooding,” Valadao said. “These storms brought to light many flaws in our existing disaster relief programs.” 

California’s Department of Water Resources began releasing water from Oroville Dam’s main spillway on Jan. 31, currently placing its water storage capacity at 76%. These releases, which flow to the Feather River, will ensure storage space remains in Lake Oroville for flood control protection. 

DWR records also show that Lake Isabella’s water storage doubled, but the lake is only at one-fifth of its potential water capacity, holding 100,000 acre-feet out of an approximate 500,000 acre-feet capacity. 

“Maximizing what can be moved at all times through the Delta, especially during these atmospheric river events, and investing in water storage infrastructure and conveyance projects is critical to capture and store as much of this rain as possible,” Valadao said. “If we don’t, we will inevitably find ourselves in another man-made water shortage.” 

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