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New Melones, earthen dams, & small bypass
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
When we traded out of East Oakland into Manteca in 1987 we learned that we had traded into a problem.  The City had been selling the same storm drainage capacity over and over again to successive developers, so by the time we showed up if there was 2/3 of an inch of rain in one hour it would be inside homes clear across the middle of town, including our apartments.
 I dug in and began researching and learned that there had been several waves of protest over the past 30 years and each time, the City had quelled the  protest by commissioning another Storm Drain Master Plan which would fix the problem.  Only they never actually did what the plan told them they needed to do.  So we did not accept their latest update as solving the problem.
 Although the sellers had not told us of the problem, it’s very difficult to unwind a 3-legged tax-deferred exchange, and besides I really had no interest in moving back to East Oakland.  We got to work on the problem.
My late wife and I organized flooding victims clear across the City.  We commissioned Stop Manteca Flooding shirts and signs and the signs appeared all across the city and the South County.  We attended and many of us spoke at every Council meeting, every Planning Commission meeting for several years and protested every new development, analyzed and challenged every environmental impact report and so on, and eventually they got tired of us and to their great credit they spent $2.5 million to fix the problem and solved everyone’s problem but ours, although what they did helped.
 Some years later when they put in the Curran Grove subdivision upstream from us in the development of Spreckels Park the large park/pond they put in there helped more.  Still, when it rains like it has lately I watch “Weather in Motion” radar for 95336, I check my inventory of sandbags, and make sure the drains are cleared.  Since our protests it seems the ponds the developers put in have gotten bigger and deeper which is a good thing. 
 The development community did not like me and that sentiment continues.  You can’t please everybody, especially the culprits.  As part of all this I ran for City Council in November of 1990, it was mine to lose and I managed to lose it.  Although I got a lot of votes, I finished out of the running.  The developers had spent $70,000 or soon a telephone “push poll” and managed to siphon off just enough of my support through their deception.  I went on to other things.
 Which brings me to this: if the bypass calculations for New Don Pedro are correct (and Modesto Irrigation District is still stonewalling my request to see those calculations), then it appears that bypass provided for New Melones Reservoir is a third undersized, and when you overtop an earth-fill dam, very bad things happen.  With New Melones being 100 times the size of the reservoir that failed causing the famous very deadly Johnstown flood you can guess what bad things that might be. 
While I was concerned about our little Manteca flooding problem, I was unaware of this monster problem lurking upstream.  Unaware until my present multi-election campaign, see . And now I know.  This must be fixed.

 Mike Barkley