Schwarzenegger: Growing California cannot procrastinate on new dams

With the 424-MW San Luis Dam in the background, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger renewed his call July 16 for California to issue $5.9 billion in water bonds, including $4.5 billion to build two new dams in a comprehensive water storage and conveyance system.

�We have to build, we cannot anymore procrastinate,� Schwarzenegger said, noting California’s population is expected to grow to 60 million people by 2050 from today’s 37 million.

�We don’t need another study to tell us that California needs water storage, we don’t need another commission,� he said. �We can’t keep kicking that can down the alley. We have been doing this for 20 or 30 years now.�

San Luis Reservoir, part of the Central Valley Project, features a 382-foot-tall, 18,600-foot-long dam, and the 424-MW William R. Gianelli pumping-generating plant. The facility pumps Central Valley Project water for off-stream storage.

Schwarzenegger said San Luis Reservoir is at 25 percent of capacity, illustrating his point California is in the midst of a mounting water crisis.

�Everyone here knows that we have to go and build, so anyone that wants to have another study just wants to procrastinate further,� he said.

A number of officials appeared with Schwarzenegger, including Chairman Steve Patricio of the Western Growers Association, who said surface water development answers pressing needs.

�Surface water storage will cool the environment, supply water for Californians, generate hydroelectric power, and create public recreational facilities for future generations,� Patricio said. �The farmers of California understand this win/win solution. Gov. Schwarzenegger understands this win/win solution.�

The governor previously proposed that some of the revenue from the water bonds be used to build Sites Dam and Reservoir in Colusa County, northwest of Sacramento, and Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir, in Fresno County near Friant Dam. (HNN 3/29/07)

California Senate Democrats opposed to building dams unveiled a package of bills earlier this year designed to improve flood protection and meet long-term water needs without new dams. However, Schwarzenegger expressed optimism Democrats, Republicans, and water districts, can work together to protect California’s interests.

The Gianelli plant lifts water with pump-turbines from a forebay into the reservoir. During the irrigation season, water is released through the pump-turbines to the forebay, generating electricity. Each of eight pump-generating units has a capacity of 63,000 horsepower as a motor and 53 MW as a generator.

In March, Schwarzenegger visited Friant Dam and Millerton Lake Reservoir to draw attention to his proposal for bonds and new above ground water storage facilities. Friant Dam is a main feature of the Friant Division of the Bureau of Reclamation’s 1,844-MW Central Valley Project’s Friant Division.

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