An excavator breaks through a levee in 2015. That allowed salt water to flood over fields in Sonoma, California. People in Central Valley are planning to remove some levees as well. (Alvin Jornada/The Press Democrat via AP)

An excavator breaks through a levee in 2015. That allowed salt water to flood over fields in Sonoma, California. People in Central Valley are planning to remove some levees as well. (Alvin Jornada/The Press Democrat via AP)

The Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers meet on the edge of the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve in Modesto, California. This area used to be farmland. Now it is California’s largest floodplain restoration project. (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

The Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers meet on the edge of the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve in Modesto, California. This area used to be farmland. Now it is California’s largest floodplain restoration project. (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

A nonprofit planted native trees and shrubs on the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve property as part of a plan to restore it to riverside habitat. (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

A nonprofit planted native trees and shrubs on the Dos Rios Ranch Preserve property as part of a plan to restore it to riverside habitat. (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

A load of rocks helps to patch a hole at the Tyler Island levee near Isleton, California. (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

A load of rocks helps to patch a hole at the Tyler Island levee near Isleton, California. (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

A levee break in farmland south of Highway 132 in Modesto, California, is seen in this aerial photo taken on January 4, 1997. (AP/Modesto Bee)

A levee break in farmland south of Highway 132 in Modesto, California, is seen in this aerial photo taken on January 4, 1997. (AP/Modesto Bee)

Let the Flooding Begin

Posted: July 1, 2022

Sometimes it’s good to be flooded.

Farmland in California was sold. It will become floodplain land. The land worked best that way all along! River flooding is a natural part of life.  

The Tuolumne (too-awl-uh-me) and San Joaquin (wah-keen) Rivers in California come together in the Central Valley. The land around the rivers used to be wetlands.

In 1848, people found gold near the rivers. Thousands wanted to strike it rich. Miners learned that gravel deposits at the bottoms of hills and canyons held gold.

They used hydraulic mining to get to the gravel deposits. High pressure cannons pulled water from rivers. Huge blasts washed away dirt to expose the loose pebbles. Miners sifted water and soil to catch gold. Massive amounts of soil and water flowed into the rivers. They became clogged and flooded.

Farmers in wetland areas built levees. They wanted to keep floods away from crops. Levees are mounds of dirt along the edges of rivers. 

The rivers couldn’t overflow easily into floodplains. As heavy rain fell, the clogged rivers flooded new areas downstream where levees had not been built. Farmers in those places started building levees!

Where could the extra water and soil go? It started to wash away the levees!

In 1884, a court case stopped companies from dumping mining leftovers into rivers. But big storms still cause rivers to overflow. Levees keep getting damaged.

Removing those levees will help rivers work the way God intended.

Why? Greed for gold and farmland caused damage to rivers and wetlands. But people can be creative to repair the damage! Learning to make repairs is a very important part of being human.