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On the Yuba River, Climate Change Means It’s Time for a Dam Makeover

AMONG CALIFORNIA RIVERS, the Yuba is one of the most dramatic. Draining the Sierra Nevada just north of Lake Tahoe, it is steep and flashy – one of the most flood-prone rivers in the state.

Yuba River floods have killed people – notably in 1955, 1986 and 1997 – and climate change is making such floods more likely. As the atmosphere warms, more winter precipitation falls as rain rather than snow. This boosts the amount of runoff coursing downhill in any given storm.

The Yuba County Water Agency has been working for years to strengthen levees along the river to handle additional runoff, together with the cities of Marysville and Yuba City downstream. Now the water agency plans something more ambitious: a major modification of New Bullards Bar Dam on the North Yuba River, its primary water storage reservoir, to handle bigger and wetter storms.

Yuba County Water Agency

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