Wednesday, April 23, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Publisher’s ink: All dams leak

By
From page A4 | January 22, 2014 | 1 Comment

“All dams leak” were three interesting words I heard prior to taking a tour of the inside of Norris Dam located at Norris, Tenn. This dam was the first one constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933.

While it’s not the largest of the TVA dams, standing 265 feet below it gives one the sense of the awesome force of what it’s holding back.

My guide unlocked an iron door and led me into the belly of the dam. We slowly walked through a short tunnel to a “T” junction. Here we entered a longer corridor running the entire length of the dam. This was just one of four corridors strategically located inside the dam. It reminded me of the Egyptian pyramids in a way. Tunnels located throughout a solid structure of concrete, all built with a purpose in mind.

A small channel of water trickled along one side of the corridor. “This is where water trying to find its way under the dam emerges,” the guide explained. “It flows up from pipes buried deep below.” This supported his earlier statement that all dams leak.

Folsom Dam and Reservoir, Mormon Island Auxiliary Dam and eight earthen dikes make up the Folsom Facility that’s managed by the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation. Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are in the final phase of a $900 million project at the dam.

Phase four, the auxiliary spillway, is the last piece of a modification deemed necessary to reduce hydrologic (overtopping) of the dam, seismic (earthquake) and static or seepage events. Remember, all dams leak and Folsom is no exception.

The concerns being addressed have a low probability of occurring in any given year but because of the large population downstream, the modifications are necessary for improved public safety.

Viewing the lake now, it’s hard to imagine why the spillway is needed and I doubt anyone living today will ever see it in action. In fact, the project is a 200-year insurance policy. There’s a one-in-200 chance the spillway will ever be used.

If the water level in Folsom Lake does reach the brim, it will flow through a 1,100-foot approach channel that will funnel it from the lake into the spillway. From there a control structure with six submerged gates will work in concert with the gates on the main dam to control the water released. It would then flow through the 3,027-foot long spillway chute down to the American River.

This final phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in late 2017.

Flooding downstream before then is highly unlikely. Drought conditions have resulted in less than 18 percent capacity and getting lower by the day. Parts of the lake bed are now exposed that haven’t been for many years. This is giving curiosity seekers a rare chance to explore old stone foundations and the remnants of the town of Red Bank.

If you own a metal detector, here’s an opportunity to find my sunglasses lost while boating on the lake two years ago. Not to mention jewelry, fishing lures or other valuables accidentally dropped off the side of pleasure craft over the years.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department is currently searching for something more meaningful as they try to locate the wreckage of a plane that plunged into the lake in 1965. The remains of three of the four passengers were never recovered.

In the event this record-breaking drought drags on and rationing water becomes necessary, try to remember all dams leak, unless of course it’s one with no water behind it. Folsom Lake appears heading in that direction.

Richard Esposito is publisher of the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Wednesday.

Richard Esposito

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

  • treasure hunterJanuary 23, 2014 - 5:19 am

    I probably found your sun glasses, over the years I have removed at least 100 pair that were floating in the deep pools of the river while dredging; not only sunglasses but everything that can be found in a raft and a few things that only God knows where the stuff came from.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

News

No quick fix for California’s highways

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1

 
More mountain lion sightings reported

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

Supervisor Nutting trial begins

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1, 8 Comments | Gallery

 
Sanford murder case to jury

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Herard over the back fence: Try fishing at Wakamatsu

By Bob Billingsley | From Page: B1

 
Downtown group coordinates painting, awnings

By Wendy Schultz | From Page: A1

 
Gearing tax questions to correct office saves time

By Treasurer-Tax Collector | From Page: A3

.

Opinion

My turn: More than a buzzword

By Special to the Democrat | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

 
Building restored

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

 
Outstanding dog

By Mountain Democrat | From Page: A4

.

Letters

Misquote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

 
Altshuler framing

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 5 Comments

National Day of Prayer

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
‘Parents, be afraid’ letter

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 4 Comments

Ukranian situation

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

 
.

Sports

Outside with Charlie: Transitioning

By Charlie Ferris | From Page: A6

 
Pitching the ‘Root’ cause of Trojans’ victory

By Mike Bush | From Page: A6 | Gallery

Pedal power at the forefront next month

By Jerry Heinzer | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Sports Scene: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

Roundup: April 22, 2014

By Democrat Staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Prospecting

4-H’ers star at showcase

By Dawn Hodson | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
At a glance: Look for fireballs

By Mimi Escabar | From Page: B2, 1 Comment

Authors to share their stories

By Pat Lakey | From Page: B2, 2 Comments

 
Church to host human trafficking conference

By Pollock Pines | From Page: B3

Grow For It! Flower of Easter

By Barbara Schuchart | From Page: B5

 
.

Essentials

Crime Log: April 1-3

By Cole Mayer | From Page: A2

 
Weather stats 4-22-14

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

Building permits 4/7-11/2014

By Michael Raffety | From Page: A2

 
.

Obituaries

Harry Frank Harper

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
Marion “Wayne” Griswold

By Contributor | From Page: A2

Bobby Lloyd Bridges

By Contributor | From Page: A2

 
.

Real Estate

.

Comics

Tundra

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Horoscope, Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Horoscope, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Working It Out

By Contributor | From Page: A8

TV Listings

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Shoe

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Sudoku

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Rubes

By Contributor | From Page: A8

New York Times Crossword

By Contributor | From Page: A8

 
Flying McCoys

By Contributor | From Page: A8

Speed Bump

By Contributor | From Page: A8