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Federal government drops Auburn dam

A decision announced by Lester A Snow, regional director of the US Bureau of Reclamation (USBR), to abandon a tunnel that diverted water from the American river, is expected to kill the long stalled Auburn dam project. The dam would have provided flood control and irrigation water to farmers on the east side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The decision is a victory for environmentalists and Northern California interests that said the dam was too expensive, unduly destructive to the North Fork of the American river, and only served to encourage wasteful water use among Central Valley farmers and in sprawling Southern California.

The Auburn dam project was authorised in 1965 as a US$426M, 213m tall dam, about 60km north of Sacramento, but congressional opposition in the 1970s called a halt to the early stages of the project. In 1992, USBR resubmitted the project for

congressional approval. It was reconfigured slightly as a flood control project, costing nearly US$1B. Congress did not fund the project and it has been in limbo ever since.