Army Corps needs to settle dam issues
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has flopped around on the safety of Success Dam as much as a fish out of water and that flopping needs to stop.
The Corps is again back to having concerns the water could top the dam in a major flood event. While there is a small chance of that occurring, the Corps should still address it, but move ahead with allowing the lake to fill this summer.
Safety concerns over the dam have been ongoing for eight years now. During that time water has been restricted behind the dam. For a few years no more than 29,000 acre feet of water was allowed in the 82,000-foot capacity reservoir. That was eventually increased to 40,000 acre feet, and last year to 65,000 acre feet. The hope is the Corps will allow the dam to fill to capacity this summer. Last year’s higher storage reportedly did not create any problems.
Safety concerns raised include the chance of an earthquake that might cause the dam to collapse, seepage and now water flowing over the top of the dam because the spillway is not large enough to let water out fast enough should that need — a slight chance — arise.
This all started a decade ago when it was proposed to raise the spillway to allow officials to hold more water behind the dam in a flood event. That proposal came after a few wet years when water from Success Lake helped to fill Tulare Lake in Kings County. That old lake covers hundreds of thousands of acres of farm land and is dry except for extremely wet years.
Most agree the spillway at Success Lake needs to be widened and possibly raised to not only allow for more storage when necessary, but to allow more water to flow out if necessary.
The issue should not keep the Corps from allowing the lake to fill as it did for more than 25 years. That decision could allow the Corps to move forward on getting the marina back on the lake and for Porterville to get its reservoir back.