Mixed Feelings Over Flood Control for Santa Ana River

I greeted Senate passage of the Santa Ana River flood control project (March 27) with mixed emotions. For one thing, I hope that the planners will get an early start on cleaning up the entire waterway of the river as it passes through Orange County. This is especially important because the flood threat will exist until the proposed upstream dam is completed.

It is possible to buy recreation along with flood control. Carefully regulated tailwater sections below dams can be producers of fantastic fishing opportunities for all. But if no long-term consideration is given to this byproduct, then we are likely to witness erosion of the invested dollar along with the rich soil that gets dumped into the sea after a heavy rainfall.

As a conservationist who likes to fish for fun and sport, I wonder why the water managers do not apply high technology to the task of conserving our water resources. Why do they apologize for opening the flood gates on their reservoirs and wiping out years of effort in establishing fish habitat below the gates? Surely the means exist to control the flow rate in a stream below a dam. Surely some diversionary methods are available to prevent a dam from reaching its water saturation level.

Let’s hope that the Santa Ana River project will be managed better than our local water projects--particularly the San Gabriel River.


Buena Park

Sheldon Karlan is a member of Saddleback chapter of Trout Unlimited and Orange County Fly Fishers Club.