The Oroville Dam is in a world of hurt.




So, I think about water a lot. I think about where it comes from , where it goes, and what it does on the way. I read Cadillac Desert. I don’t imagine that makes me an expert on dams in the western US, but it does give a good introduction to the subject. And what it tells me is that dams are one hell of a mixed bag. They allow the deserts to bloom, as long as the people who designed the dam chose the right spot to put the dam, and the right type of dam and built it to store all the water that it could be expected to hold, even accounting for once-in-a-millennium floods, and made provisions for releasing the water safely in an emergency. Then the dam has to be built to spec and maintained faithfully. And it has to be integrated into the existing and changing network of dams and irrigation in the west. And all of this is complicated. I’d even go so far as to say, really fucking complicated.

The Oroville dam is at 100% capacity. It can’t hold any more water. So they release water down the spillway. But it’s cracked and can’t take the amount of water that needs to be released. So they have opened the emergency spillway. Which isn’t concrete lined and is eroding fast enough that smart dam-operating people are worried the entire hillside could collapse which would release all the water in the reservoir at once. One term that stuck me as memorable was “30 foot tall wall of water” So they reduced the flow to the emergency spillway. So the water level in the reservoir is rising and more rainstorms are expected soon. So there is an evacuation order in place and 200,000 people downstream of the dam have to find a new place to sleep for a week, or worst case, permanently.

So the current administration might get a crisis sooner than it wants, and from a direction they didn’t anticipate. And to bring it back to our Sadly, No themes and one of my particular hobby horses, this is exactly what Victor Davis Hanson is talking about when he uses the phrase “wisdom of our forefathers”. He argues all the goddamn time that the only thing California needs to solve its ongoing water issues is to build more dams. Like their forefathers did. a-tale-of-four-droughts asshole.


Comments: 14


Yeah, I’m confident the Trump administration will be totally up to speed on this crisis, and those 200,000 citizens downstream from the dam have nothing to worry about. Well, unless the dam lets go while President Trump is having a little me time at Mar-A-Lago or it’s toward the end of the day and he’s all tuckered out.


Trump has already shown what a petulant prick he us, refusing Callie’s request for emergency funding.


Sorry, California voted for Hillary. Those poor folks (“so called Americans” per the PumpkinFuhrer) will just have to bail themselves out (pun intended).


I suppose the good news for him is that the people suffering will be Californians. Expect more of the Hurricane Katrina level “God’s punishment on those sinful people” crap, this time out of the White House…


If there is a way to monetize this tragedy, you can be certain that that is chief among MoneyBooBoo@trade;’s current priorities!



pardon the miscue….Still gots a bit of moron to work around.


POTUS SCROTUS: So Called Ruler of the United States

Stolen from rhymes with mofo”

placed here for posterity…


Didn’t make this up, but I’m becoming more and more partial to “Dolt 45”.


Freepers Funnies for Tuesday:

Flynn’s resignation has one effect—it confirms for us that the Trump Administration cares about integrity.



The revelations of General Flynn lying to Congress and engaging in treason are indeed troubling.

But not nearly as troubling as Hillary’s emails…


Famed hoplologist and whiner VD Hanson has gone far too long without a proper fisking.

In any case, Ah Pah was no more environmentally unsound than is the Hetch Hetchy Project,

he bloviated, without supporting evidence and argument. Which is to say, surprise surprise surprise, what a remarkably specious claim! One fact alone belies VD’s baseless assertion, namely that the Klamath River is one of the most productive salmon runs in the country. The fisheries would have been all but wiped out by the project.

Then too, there’s the minor nit that no proper environmental study of Ah Pah was ever completed. Then also too too and such as, the Hetch Hetchy project was completed in 1923, when organized environmentalism was in its nascency, some thirty or forty years or more before the Ah Pah project would have gotten underway. Proper environmental study of Hetch Hetchy is equally absent the record. Not only does VD spuriously assert an equivalency, he does when there’s not even basis for making a comparison. None. Whatsoever. Imagine that.

So what are the facts of the matter? Ah Pah was but one variant of of the Klamath Diversion plan, first proposed in 1951. There was opposition to it even within the Bureau of Reclamation, with some factions favoring approaches.

Outside the BoR, it was opposed at that time not only by the commercial fishing industry (no tree huggers they), several (at that time nascent) environmental groups, and Native Americans. And also by the city of Los Angeles, which would have been one of the major beneficiaries as most of the diverted water would have been delivered to the Los Angeles basin! (LA saw the plan as a “ploy to encourage it to relinquish its claim on the share of [the Colorado River which] it considered its own.”)

Let’s repeat that, with emphasis and elucidation: most of the diverted water would have been delivered to the Los Angeles basin, not for agricultural uses.

After the initial defeat, the plan resurfaced in various forms throughout the 60s and even into the 70s. But a 1965 Act of Congress required the Bureau of Reclamation to seek congressional approval before even conducting feasibility studies for water projects. Thus, no complete plan was ever produced.

Summary thus far: What. A. Hack.

without which there would be no Silicon Valley today as we now know it.

Famed hoplologist VDh sinks to Jonah Loadpants style of thesis making, wherein the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy is turned into a gold standard for argument. It is true that without Hetch Hetchy there probably wouldn’t have been a Silicon Valley as we know it, but it’s because there wouldn’t have been a San Francisco / Bay Area as we know it.

Hetch Hetchy was motivated largely by the realization after the San Francisco fire of 1906, that the city’s water supply was woefully inadequate. It was opposed most notably by John Muir who said “Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” Note please that Muir’s Sierra Club was and is privately funded.

The location being in Yosemite National Park, authorization required an Act of Congref. Congref duly enacted the Raker Act, which Woodrow Wilson signed. There’s a twist though, which VD would prefer to gloss over slyly elides mentioning. The Raker Act included the provision that power (the project’s several hydroelectric plants provide about 20% of SF’s electricity) and water derived from the river (80% of the water supply for over 2.5 million people) could only be utilized for public interests. (The city failed to keep that promise by later selling hydropower to PG&E.)

One cannot say that hundreds of millions of public dollars have not gone to environmentalists, in and outside of government and academia,

Ouch! That non sequitur smacked my gob so hard it hurts! Where, exactly, in the preceding do we see money flowing to environmentalists? Of course that is – as is so often the case when dealing with VD’s so-called arguments – a purely rhetorical question. Had it been an actual question, the answer would be NOFUCKINGWHERE. Not only is there no indication that such happened, the facts show that it definitely did not happen. We hereby bestow on VD the David Barton Revising Inventing History Award.

Do we even need to call out the former academic’s irrelevant, snide, sniping at academia?

to subsidize their visions of the future that did not include food production and power generation for others.

Twirling twirling twirling ever twirling!

They are no less subsidized than the corporate farmers they detest.

That, my dear professor, is what’s called a category error. The projects and plans at hand took place in an era before corporate farming. We must also note yet again that such subsidies exist only in your febrile imagination.

I’m not sorry to say I’m tempted to assign you a big fat flying flaming F. But even that would be more than you deserve. In the words of Wolfgang Pauli, “What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not.” And I most definitely do not want to see you after class.

End note:

I, too, am interested in water. Though I am far from expert – I’m not a hydrogeologist – I do know a fair bit about water and dams and such. In a former life I was Shirley Maclaine worked for the USDA Watershed Research Service. Which looked at, y’know, water and dams and such.

With respect to VD’s “build more dams!” posture,
Cf. and [Vajont Dam
Vajont Dam and


Thank you Pupienus Maximus, that was a work of art, a deft combination of fact, context and withering contempt for the idiocies of a dolt with a far larger audience than he deserves.


I share Helmut’s feelings on the matter of your excellent commentary. And it occurs to me that we have not visited ‘Victor, He who Bulges for Hopliticine bulges, while wondering if there is under, under there, Hanson in quite some time!


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