Dam the Golden Gate

With California facing a severe drought today, negative impacts from climate change long term, and exorbitantly expensive housing, it’s time to think big about solutions to address our water, energy, and housing shortages. Fortunately, there is an easy mega-project that can help us tackle all three: dam the Golden Gate.

Under this proposal, a large concrete arch dam would be constructed across the Golden Gate, just west of the bridge. Since the inflow of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers would not be sufficient to maintain the water level of the closed-off bay at sea level, water levels would start to drop due to evaporation. The difference in elevation between the ocean and the closed-off bay could then be exploited to create an enormous hydroelectric generation facility at the Golden Gate.

Since the Golden Gate Dam would inevitably doom salmon and smelt in the delta, there would be no need to allow any fresh water to enter the bay. Therefore, the entire flow of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers could be diverted south to Central Valley farms and Southern California via the State Water Project. An auxiliary dam across the Carquinez Strait would allow Suisun Bay to be converted into a freshwater reservoir to increase water storage for droughts.

This plan would increase the dependence of Southern California on water supplies from Northern California; however, by putting the Port of Oakland out of business, it would increase the dependence of Northern California on imports made through the Ports of LA and Long Beach.

Finally, by lowering the level of San Francisco Bay, the plan would create hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of acres of new land. All this land would be developed with single-family tract housing, which, ya know, is the only kind of housing we want to allow to be built in California anyway. While some might initially object to the impact on the natural environment, these works would no doubt become revered achievements, making good use of nature’s error.

3 thoughts on “Dam the Golden Gate

  1. MarkB

    I like that idea so much I started thinking about where else we could apply a similar solution. It occurred to me that Hetch Hetchy would be a great place to put a dam. It’s just a stoopid valley—one of millions on this planet, so who’d miss it anyway? Why not put it to use enabling San Fran to import its water and generate a few electron-volts while it’s at it? Win-win!

  2. keaswaran

    Everyone interested in this post should go to Sausalito and visit the SF Bay Model, which was built (before computers!) as a device for calculating the effects of this plan: http://www.spn.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/BayModelVisitorCenter.aspx

    (Spoiler alert: they decided not to do it, but the model turned out to be handy in figuring out the effects of constructing the airports on landfill, and even finding things washed up from trucks that fell into the Bay.)


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