Devastating floods are almost annual occurrences in the West and in California. With the anticipated sea level rise and other impacts of a changing climate, particularly heavy winter rains, flood management is increasingly critical in California. Compounding the issue are man-made flood hazards such as levee stability and stormwater runoff.
One of the country’s foremost experts on catastrophic engineering failures released a new report Thursday on the troubled Oroville Dam that asks a disturbing question: Is the country’s tallest dam leaking?
State water resources officials and federal regulators caused the failure of the Oroville Dam spillway in February by ignoring long-established guidelines and neglecting their duty to manage risks and detect flaws, a scathing report by a Berkeley engineering expert concluded Thursday.
Construction work on a portion of the Marysville Ring Levee – deemed by a federal agency as the “weakest link” in the city’s levees – began earlier this month along Highway 70. … John Nicoletti, a levee commissioner for Marysville, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has assessed the ring levee and found that Binney Junction is the city’s most vulnerable point.
For the first time in more than six months, no federally monitored rivers in California or Nevada are flooding or at risk of flooding, according to climate scientists. From Jan. 4 to July 15, at least one California or Nevada river fed by the Sierra Nevada was at or above flood monitoring stage, following a historically wet winter.
Congress is considering sweeping changes to the debt-laden National Flood Insurance Program that could jack up flood insurance rates for hundreds of thousands of homeowners under a bill that a Florida real estate group called “devastating.”
In its eighth memorandum released Thursday, the independent board analyzing the redesign of the Oroville Dam spillways commends the construction contractor’s work and makes slight tweaks to former recommendations.
Trails, roads and campgrounds throughout the Sierra high country were hit hard by snow and runoff from one of the largest snowpacks in recorded history, leaving public agencies scrambling and summer visitors feeling lost.
The state Department of Water Resources has filed a request with the Federal Energy Commission to demolish and reconstruct an additional 240 feet of the main Oroville Dam spillway upper chute this season. The purpose of the change is to ensure the reconstruction can be complete in two seasons, per a recent FERC filing.
The Department of Water Resources have asked federal regulators to let it demolish and replace an additional 240 feet of the spillway’s 3,000-foot concrete chute before the rains comes this fall, leaving less work for next year.
Nearly 80 days after winning the bid to fix the disastrous Oroville Dam spillways, the contractor Kiewit offered the Chico Enterprise-Record and Oroville Mercury-Register Friday a close-up view of construction efforts.
The preliminaries are just about over. Permanent structural repairs are about to begin at Oroville Dam. Five months after an unprecedented emergency forced a mass evacuation, state officials said Wednesday they’re ready to start replacing the now-demolished lower portions of Oroville’s main flood-control spillway.
Anyone who contemplated the wreckage of the Oroville Dam’s main spillway back in February — either while water was pounding down the shattered concrete structure or when the flow was stopped later and the enormity of the damage was fully visible — probably had this thought cross their mind: “That is going to be tough to fix.”
Facing a crisis after a huge crater formed in the main flood-control spillway at Oroville Dam, officials at the California Department of Water Resources called in an old hand to help: David Gutierrez, a nationally known engineer who had just retired as chief of the agency’s dam-safety division.
Inside a cavernous northern Utah warehouse, hydraulic engineers send water rushing down a replica of a dam built out of wood, concrete and steel – trying to pinpoint what repairs will work best at the tallest dam in the U.S for a spillway torn apart in February during heavy rains that triggered the evacuation of 200,000 people living downstream.
The flooding is the result of more than a week of high temperatures that have rapidly melted mountain snow, filling Pine Flat Reservoir and prompting the Army Corps of Engineers to send a surge of water into the Kings River to make room for more runoff behind the dam. The river surge tested levees along the Kings in a way some residents has never expected.
Water releases from Pine Flat Dam were ratcheted up Thursday as federal officials worked to prevent the reservoir from overtopping the dam. … Crews from Kings County and the Kings River Conservation District responded to a small breach in a levee on the south fork of the Kings River between Grangville and Highway 198.
Work at the Oroville Dam will carry on in spite of the 110 degree-plus temperatures anticipated this week. There are protections in place for construction employees with the contractor, Kiewit, and concrete has to undergo a cooling techniques to be able to keep applying it, said Jeff Petersen, the company’s project director in a press conference call Wednesday morning.
The rush of workers and heavy machinery to the shore of Lake Oroville is so vast and unfamiliar it’s fanning rumors across this rural region that the ruckus couldn’t just be for a historic dam repair. … But as state officials gave The Chronicle a tour last week of the construction site, they said the effort was both extensive and relatively straightforward.
Fresh off the Oroville Dam crisis, California lawmakers on Thursday voted to make dam-safety plans secret through language that was quietly inserted into a budget-related bill. The legislation, which requires Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature before becoming law, says emergency action plans at dams would be kept confidential to “protect public safety.”
In February, damage to the spillway of the dam on Lake Oroville in Butte County, California, and erosion under the dam’s emergency spillway threatened to send billions of gallons of water cascading through dozens of California communities. The dam did not collapse, but the damage to the spillway and the emergency spillway was enormous.
This weekend the water level in Isabella Lake is expected to reach — and maybe even exceed — the restricted pool allowed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. And that means it might be time for residents who reside below the lake’s troubled dam to review their risks.
Concerned Trinity Dam could suffer the same fate as Oroville Dam — which had a near catastrophic failure this past winter — the Trinity County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to continue to pursue getting an emergency spillway built on the dam.
Even as President Donald Trump has announced his intention for the U.S. to withdraw from a global climate agreement, many of the nation’s river communities are responding to climate change by raising or replacing bridges that suddenly seem too low to stay safely above water.
The helicopters alone cost more than $100,000 a day at one point. Weeks of dredging debris ran to more than $22 million. And on the day after the massive evacuation, as the crisis was peaking, the state spent $3,902 on breakfasts and lunches for emergency workers.
If you’re expecting a quick and easy answer on what caused the spillway failure at Oroville Dam, think again. The leader of the independent forensics team studying the Oroville crisis said Thursday that the crack in the dam’s main flood-control spillway likely was caused by a combination of problems.
The Enterprise-Record/Oroville Mercury-Record got its closest look so far Wednesday at the Oroville Dam spillway work on a site visit hosted by the state Department of Water Resources. … The visit included an hour-long meeting in a conference room at DWR’s Oroville headquarters, and a trip to catch a view of lower spillway blasting around 12:30 p.m. followed by access to the structure above the spillway.
AB 646, which has passed two committees and could go to the Assembly floor next week, would require landlords throughout California to provide written notification to those renting in “a special flood hazard area or an area of potential flooding.”
President Donald Trump made rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure a major job-creating campaign pledge. But while his first big federal budget proposal has $200 billion for that purpose, most of it won’t be available until late 2018 and beyond.
Three months after Coyote Creek overflowed its banks and caused $100 million in damage to homes and businesses in San Jose, a flood control project straddling the city’s northern edges with Milpitas may be in danger of being shut down because of red tape. …
Federal dam regulators are reevaluating how they conduct dam inspections in the wake of the Oroville Dam spillway crisis, and they’ve ordered the nation’s dam operators to thoroughly inspect their facilities to see “if they have a potential Oroville waiting to happen,” a federal dam inspector said Sunday.
State officials plan to stop releasing water down the mangled main spillway at Oroville Dam on Friday, allowing workers to begin months of round-the-clock repairs to the chute and to an emergency spillway that is also badly damaged.
A hole in the concrete spillway chute of the Oroville Dam first made itself known 100 days ago. How it got there is still a mystery, as is what it will cost to fix the resulting damage and whether a fix will be in place in time for the next rainy season.
The deaths of five people in two Tulare County rivers in less than a month are prompting officials to warn the public about the dangers of rushing water fed by the heavy snowpack now melting in the Sierra. “Stay away from the river’s edge, and don’t enter the water,” said Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.
America’s tallest dam was built from earth, stone and concrete – and the towering ambition of Gov. Pat Brown. Sixty years before a crisis at Oroville Dam sent thousands fleeing for their lives in February, the late governor brought an almost evangelical zeal to erecting the structure that would hold back the Feather River to deliver water to the parched southern half of the state.
Trouble had been developing at the Oroville Dam and the main spillway had been shut down; water started flowing over the emergency spillway and the hillside below it started disintegrating at an alarming rate. Late afternoon on Feb. 12, evacuation orders were issued. By most people’s accounts, it didn’t go well.
If a fresh look had been taken at Oroville Dam — any time between 50 years ago and last year — could the breakup of the spillway have been avoided? Is enough being done to ensure that work done today will keep the communities downstream of the dam safe? Should the Department of Water Resources remain in charge of the dam in the future?
The amount of money Donald Trump’s administration reimburses California for repairs to Oroville Dam could depend on whether the state properly maintained the dam’s spillway prior to it crumbling this winter, a state water official told lawmakers Thursday.
As in most of the other community meetings the Department of Water Resources has conducted about the Oroville Dam spillway crisis, staff members Tuesday night offered profuse apologies and community members voiced distrust. … Many of those who stood to speak said they or their families had also been present for the floods of the past (1955, 1986, 1997).
There’s more debris in the water at the Oroville Dam Diversion Pool than initially thought, and state Department of Water Resources officials now don’t expect to complete dredging and hauling of debris by December. DWR is seeking bids for the remaining work.
The massive failure of the Oroville Dam’s main spillway in February involved two dozen potential design and maintenance problems, including thin concrete, inadequate reinforcing steel and weaknesses in the foundation, a panel of engineering experts reported Wednesday.
In a report released Wednesday, engineers assigned to investigate the February failure of Oroville Dam’s main spillway cited a variety of flaws in the 3,000-foot-long structure, including variations in the thickness of the concrete slabs, poor drainage beneath the spillway, improperly filled cracks and signs of inadequate maintenance.
California is putting communities downstream in danger of flooding with the way it runs the now-crippled Oroville Dam, mayors and county leaders wrote this week in a strongly worded letter to Gov. Jerry Brown.
The melting of this year’s record snowpack is continuing to create problems, with authorities warning of more flooding in Yosemite National Park and fast-moving, high water at a popular Central Valley river.
California is borrowing up to $500 million to pay for the crisis at Oroville Dam, although it expects to be reimbursed for its costs. … Kiewit Corp. of Omaha, Neb., has won a $275.4 million contract for the repairs, which are expected to take two years.
California is asking the federal government to pay 75 percent of the hundreds of millions of dollars in repairs to the badly damaged spillways at the nation’s tallest dam, a state water agency spokeswoman said Monday.
The independent board overseeing the repair of the damage main Oroville Dam spillway has recommended the state Department of Water Resources change its priorities and focus on the damaged bottom chute rather than the top.
Outside consultants agree with the state’s plan to spend the next two summers replacing sections of Oroville Dam’s still largely intact upper spillway rather than trying to tear it all out in one season. But the public can’t see the recommendations the independent board of consultants gave the Department of Water Resources to ensure the work is safe and sound.
High temperatures put the Merced River in Yosemite National Park over flood stage on Thursday as snow from higher elevations melted and flowed into the river’s basin. But most Central California reservoirs, preparing for the warmer weather and melting snowpack throughout the Sierra, have excess capacity to handle such runoff.
The rain has largely stopped after one of the wettest winters in California. But as spring temperatures begin to climb and snow in the Sierra Nevada melts, the threat of flooding has communities across the Central Valley on edge. … The concerns are magnified in some areas by subsidence, a festering problem exacerbated by five years of drought in the Central Valley.
Cindy Messer apologized Tuesday to several hundred grim Oroville residents who had been ordered to run from their homes three months earlier. They sat rigidly in their seats inside the Oroville Municipal Auditorium at the first public meeting Messer’s agency, the Department of Water Resources, has hosted in Oroville since the February crisis at the dam.
Will there be a viewing platform where the public can watch work being done on the Oroville spillway? That’s the plan, according to Cindy Messer, Chief Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources.
The Stanislaus River charged at well above its typical May volume as Lucas Huffman launched his kayak Tuesday at Knights Ferry. … The central part of the [Sierra Nevada] range has had near-record rain and snow. Temperatures have spiked past 90 degrees, and the snowmelt has sped up.
State officials on Monday reported a near-record May snowpack, but the bountiful winter that demolished California’s five-year drought is now increasing the risk of late spring flooding, as temperatures climb across the Sierra Nevada.
Water experts say the heavy spring runoff will likely continue until summer, testing California’s flood management efforts in what is a delicate balance between keeping enough water behind dams to prevent downstream surges and releasing enough to make space for the incoming melt.
Deep in the Trinity Alps, 130 miles northwest of the troubled Oroville Dam, local officials are raising alarms about another earthen dam with documented weaknesses and limited capacity for releasing the water that has poured in from storms and melting snow.
A power industry consulting firm has proposed a design for the Oroville Dam spillways which involves not repairing the current one, but building a new, wider spillway. … Kenneth Viney, manager of CoastalGen Inc., based in Napa, filed suggestions Monday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the impact on your lives,” Bill Croyle told a crowd of more than 250 people at the Butte County Fairgrounds. Croyle, the acting director of the Department of Water Resources, answered questions and listened Thursday evening as people stepped up to a microphone and were heard during the first of the water agency’s community meetings about the Oroville Dam spillway disaster and evacuations.
California officials are keeping another document on the Oroville Dam recovery sealed from public view but promise to release a redacted version within a week. The Department of Water Resources filed an update Thursday from the outside consultants advising DWR on Oroville repairs.
Two experts weighed in on the memos that the Board of Consultants assessing the current operations and future spillway options sent to the Department of Water Resources. … A former engineer who reviews disasters and a Chico State University engineering professor reviewed the memos and talked to this newspaper about their questions, comments and concerns.
Rivers were swift and wide this winter with heavy storms adding up to the wettest winter in 122 years. People who have lived in the Sacramento Valley for decades remember flooding from their youth, when towns were evacuated, homes were lost and topsoil washed away.
Members of the state Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, at an hourlong oversight hearing on the Oroville crisis, questioned Secretary John Laird, the head of the Department of Water Resources and Natural Resources, on the specifications of the $275 million contract awarded earlier this month to Kiewit Corp. of Omaha, Neb., to fix the dam’s two damaged spillways.
For the first time since the Lake Oroville spillway crisis began, members of the state Legislature peppered key water leaders with questions about what happened, what will happen next and what can be learned from it all.
The head of California’s water agency on Tuesday repeated his assertion that an emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam worked, drawing an incredulous response from a state lawmaker who represents tens of thousands of people ordered to evacuate when it was feared erosion at the spillway could lead to catastrophic flooding.
A pair of crippled spillways at Oroville Dam can be repaired in part by November, but a good deal of the work will probably have to be done after the next rainy season, according to reports by an independent panel of experts.
The damage has been done and the repair contract awarded. … How much will be the responsibility of homeowners, businesses, farmers and other customers of the more than two dozen local and regional agencies that contract with the State Water Project?
Official reports released Monday say the catastrophic damage to Oroville Dam’s main spillway probably stemmed from swift water flows under the concrete chute, which was cracked and of uneven thickness.
Responding to criticism about secrecy around the Oroville Dam repair effort, California officials released two redacted reports Monday from outside engineers consulting on plans to fix the dam’s battered spillways.
Citing the near disaster at Oroville Dam, a group of congressional Democrats is pushing the government’s watchdog agency to investigate federal oversight of dam safety regulations. … Separately, the California state Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee will hold an oversight hearing on Oroville next Tuesday [April 25].
A disaster expert’s review of the Oroville Dam spillway emergency says the Department of Water Resources could have prevented everything with better design, better construction and better maintenance. Robert Bea prepared the report published Monday.
A coalition of environmental groups that had warned Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway was fatally flawed long before it nearly washed away this winter is demanding that federal regulators open up dam repair plans for public vetting.
Late in the afternoon of Feb. 12, Sheriff Kory Honea was at the emergency operations center for the tallest dam in America when he overheard someone say something that stopped him in his tracks: “This is not good.”
As state officials clamp down on records at Oroville Dam, one of the country’s foremost experts on catastrophic engineering failures has used state inspection reports, photographs and historical design specifications to piece together an autopsy detailing why the spillway at the country’s tallest dam failed so spectacularly this winter.
California water officials Monday awarded a $275 million contract to repair the troubled Oroville Dam to a subsidiary of one of the world’s largest construction companies that is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.
Design flaws, construction shortcomings and maintenance errors caused the Oroville Dam spillway to break apart in February, according to an independent analysis by Robert Bea for the Center for Catastrophic Risk Analysis at UC Berkeley.
State officials have reopened the damaged spillway at Oroville Dam as another set of rainstorms began moving across Northern California. … Water will continue pouring down the spillway for up to two weeks, depending on how much more rain falls.
California’s top water official said Thursday he’s considering releasing redacted copies of safety and progress reports at the troubled Oroville Dam after his office had tried to keep them secret because of terrorism concerns.
With stormy weather approaching, state water managers announced Thursday they will resume releasing water down a damaged spillway at the nation’s tallest dam. The badly eroded main spillway at California’s Oroville Dam hasn’t been used since March 27.
It’s not just the residents of Oroville, Gridley and Yuba City who are frustrated with the Department of Water Resources’ lack of transparency concerning the Oroville Dam spillways. Two California legislators who represent those living downstream from the dam are also upset that they aren’t getting answers. … The state Senate’s Natural Resources Committee has a hearing scheduled at 9 a.m. April 25 that will go over what happened with the Oroville Dam spillway.
A state-commissioned report on climate change released Wednesday raises the stakes for fighting global warming, offering a clearer and, in some cases, more catastrophic picture of how much sea levels will rise in California.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is using federal security regulations written to thwart terrorism to deny public access to records that experts say could guide repairs to the Oroville Dam and provide insight into what led to the near catastrophic failure of its emergency spillway.
The Manteca Unified School District must pay to fund local levee improvements, just like any other property owner in the area, an appeals court has found. One attorney says the decision is good news for the small levee districts across the Delta charged with protecting farms and cities from floods.
California’s Dept. of Water Resources has announced a fast-track plan to replace the shattered spillways at Oroville Dam — at least partially — by November 1, when the rainy season is expected to resume. Meanwhile, engineers at Oroville Dam are drilling cores and conducting geological studies, hoping to better understand February’s near-catastrophic spillway failures.
California officials on Thursday announced an ambitious plan to increase the size of Lake Oroville’s damaged main spillway, allowing it to release nearly twice as much water, as they seek to rebuild the 3,000-foot-long concrete chute that gave way this year.
State officials sketched a two-year recovery plan Thursday for the battered Oroville Dam spillway, revealing a blueprint that’s far from complete, still in need of a price tag and certain to leave the structure partially damaged as the next rainy season approaches.
The Department of Water Resources can operate the Oroville Dam project in an emergency capacity until Aug. 24. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved an emergency permit for the state water agency Feb. 24, and it is good for six months.
Since the Oroville Dam spillway incident highlighted flaws in the current system, Yuba-Sutter officials are in the process of revising evacuation plans. Both Yuba and Sutter counties have been gathering information from the public regarding the February evacuation and plan on using the situation as a learning tool.
Citing potential security risks, state and federal officials are blocking the public’s ability to review documents that could shed light on repair plans and safety issues at crippled Oroville Dam. … The secrecy on the part of state dam operators prompted state Sen. Jim Nielsen to call for an immediate oversight hearing.
It’s a race against time this spring as water roars out of Central California’s dams and rumbles its way to the lowest-lying areas of the western San Joaquin Valley, communities where land is collapsing and water channels are growing more unstable. State engineers are generating new maps to understand where water is stagnating in spots it once flowed freely, and to learn which communities are in the most danger of flooding.
President Donald Trump announced Sunday more than a half-billion dollars would be coming to California to help cover the damage from the winter storms, including $274 million for repairs to the Oroville Dam spillway. The fulfillment of the fourth presidential declaration for damage from the winter storms totals an estimated $540 million.
The state Department of Water Resources gave the overseeing federal agency of the Oroville Dam what it asked for last week — a schedule for the independent review team investigating the cause of the spillway failures, but it listed no deadline for a final report from the team.
After millions of dollars of flood damage and mass evacuations this year, California is grappling with how to update its aging flood infrastructure. That has some calling for a new approach to flood control – one that mimics nature instead of trying to contain it.
As snow continued to fall on the eastern Sierra Nevada on Monday, platoons of earth movers, cranes and utility trucks fanned out across the Owens Valley, scrambling to empty reservoirs and clean out a lattice-work of ditches and pipelines in a frantic effort to protect the key source of Los Angeles’ water.
The operators of Oroville Dam acknowledged Monday they might not be able to permanently repair the dam’s battered main spillway in time for the next rainy season, but said they’re confident the fractured structure will be usable.
California’s top water manager said Monday that the problem-plagued Oroville Reservoir will have a new spillway in place to prevent potentially dangerous outflows of water in time for the next rainy season.
More than a month after Coyote Creek spilled its banks and flooded surrounding neighborhoods, city leaders Thursday said some 500 families remain unable to return home and pleaded with property owners to help house them.
The main spillway at Oroville Dam is riddled with design flaws and so badly damaged that an independent panel of experts hired by the state has concluded it’s probably impossible to repair the structure completely before the next rainy season begins in November.
Safety experts say there is no time for delay in a state plan to restore the 770-foot Oroville Dam, and they warn California would face a “very significant risk” if a damaged spillway is not in working order by fall, the start of the next rainy season.
While a nearly record-breaking rainy season has battered California’s dams and stretched the limits of local levees, the storms that began to hit Sacramento on Tuesday aren’t expected to put much additional strain on the state’s flood-control system.
[Los Angeles] Mayor Eric Garcetti proclaimed a state of emergency Monday, citing concerns that melting snowpack in the eastern Sierra Nevada could flood homes and highways in the Owens Valley and damage the Los Angeles Aqueduct.
The state Department of Water Resources Friday said the cost associated with the ongoing crisis at Oroville Dam totaled about $100 million through the end of February. … Meanwhile, dam operators Friday began releasing water down the damaged main spillway for the first time since flows were halted there Feb. 27.
Naturally-occurring asbestos has been found in the rock formations and in the air near the damaged Oroville Dam main spillway, according to a press release. Although California Department of Water Resources said risk to workers and the surrounding community is minimal, dust-control operations are being increased.
President Donald Trump on Thursday declared a major disaster for California because of damage caused by heavy rains that hit the state from Jan. 18 to Jan. 23, making available federal assistance to state and local agencies as well as some nonprofit groups.
The Department of Water Resources is planning to resume flows this week through Oroville Dam’s damaged main spillway, and warns that Feather River flows will increase to 40,000-50,000 cubic feet per second.
The Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee passed a proposed $3.5 billion water and parks bond measure Tuesday, with members calling for an assurance that if approved by California voters in 2018, the funds would be equitably distributed throughout the state. The bond, Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, includes $500 million for flood protection investments that were just added after the recent floods to address the state’s urgent needs.
California faces an estimated $50 billion price tag for roads, dams and other infrastructure threatened by floods such as the one that severely damaged Oroville Dam last month, the state’s natural resources secretary said Wednesday.
Until a few weeks ago, the McCormack-Williamson Tract in the California Delta was an island of low-lying farmland, more than two square miles protected from the surrounding rivers and sloughs by earthen levees.
Geologists attempted for the first time Tuesday to figure out what to do about the vast, yawning canyon dug out of the earth after a crater opened up in the Oroville Dam’s concrete spillway and diverted water at high speed into the adjacent hillside.
For three weeks, Oroville Dam’s fractured main spillway and the surrounding hillsides have taken a nearly nonstop pounding. The stunning waterfall crashing down what’s left of the 3,000-foot concrete span has split the spillway in two and carved massive canyons on either side.
Billions of dollars in flood projects have eased fears of levee breaks near California’s capital and some other cities, but state and federal workers are joining farmers with tractors in round-the-clock battles this week to stave off any chain-reaction failure of rural levees protecting farms and farm towns.
As hundreds of frustrated residents returned home Thursday to begin cleaning up the damage from the worst South Bay flooding in decades, water district officials said they tried to warn city officials in the hours before Coyote Creek spilled into neighborhoods that potentially destructive flows would arrive within three to four hours.
At the end of the week Shasta County residents may see a brief pause in an otherwise active rainy season, but flooding will continue to pose a threat for many low-lying areas along the Sacramento River and near other tributaries.
A day after rescuers boated hundreds of people to safety during San Jose’s worst flooding in decades, city officials Wednesday let many of the 14,000 evacuated residents return home and blamed the sudden overflow of Coyote Creek on bad information about its capacity.
As heavy winter storms continue to hammer California, the Legislature is launching a review of dam and levee safety and bracing for major investments necessary to shore up flood control throughout the state.
Nine days ago, with the Oroville Dam under stress and battered by more harsh weather, Gov. Jerry Brown said he had no immediate plans to visit the site, suggesting “I don’t think they need politicians fluttering around.”
The Department of Water Resources plans to remove at least some of the debris at the bottom of the Oroville Dam spillway and study the structure, but just aren’t sure when they’ll have a chance to do that.
As the latest major storm to saturate California got in its final licks Tuesday, the state deployed all the weapons in its flood-control arsenal — including farm tractors, pontoon boats and controlled releases from mountain reservoirs.
After the state Department of Water Resources reached its goal early Monday morning of lowering the water level at Lake Oroville by 50 feet, officials said heavy rains would likely cause lake levels to rise several feet.
Creeks and rivers topped their banks, hundreds of homes were evacuated and several thousand people found themselves trapped in a rural hamlet as Northern California emerged Tuesday from yet another winter storm.
The spillway gates opened at Don Pedro Reservoir at 3 p.m. Monday, and over the next four or more days could nearly triple the flow of the Tuolumne River as it comes through Stanislaus County and Modesto.
The badly damaged main concrete spillway at Oroville Dam was pounded by massive volumes of stormwater this month, but its failures occurred well short of the maximum flow that engineers designed the system to handle.
The frantic effort over the last few days to lower water levels at Oroville Dam after the structure’s two spillways became damaged is part of a larger drama playing out as California rapidly shifts from extreme drought to intense deluges.
Officials raced to drain more water from a lake behind battered Oroville Dam as new storms began rolling into Northern California on Wednesday and tested the quick repairs made to damaged spillways that raised flood fears.
When operators of Oroville Dam suddenly ordered evacuations on Sunday, it focused a big spotlight on a crucial piece of California’s flood-control infrastructure – spillways. … Some of these dams are getting upgrades, albeit slowly.
Work crews repairing Oroville Dam’s damaged emergency spillway are dumping 1,200 tons of rock each hour and using shotcrete to stabilize the hillside slope, an official with the Department of Water Resources told the California Water Commission today.
The pace of work is “round the clock,” said Kasey Schimke, assistant director of DWR’s legislative affairs office.
At churches, fairgrounds and other makeshift shelters, thousands of Californians packed what belongings they had into garbage bags and suitcases to return home Tuesday, two days after they were told to flee the threat of massive flooding from a dam’s damaged spillway.
With both spillways badly damaged and a new storm approaching, America’s tallest dam on Tuesday became the site of a desperate operation to fortify the massive structures before they face another major test. … In a sign of the progress made Tuesday, officials downgraded the evacuation order to a warning, allowing all evacuated residents to return home.
President Trump issued major disaster declarations to enable federal funding for California on two fronts — to aid with the Oroville Dam spillway damage and mass evacuations and to help the state deal with the widespread effects of January’s storms.
There’s another storm bearing down on troubled Oroville Dam, set to begin late Wednesday. But state officials say they believe the precipitation will be mild enough – and the reservoir empty enough – to handle this latest challenge.
As the nation’s 84,000 dams continue to age, a growing number of people downstream of these structures are at risk, according to experts and data of the nation’s dams. … California has 1,585 dams, according to the National Inventory of Dams database. Fifty-two percent of those dams are considered a high hazard, the fourth-most of any state.
A huge Northern California reservoir, held in place by a massive dam, has always been central to the life of the towns around it. Now the lake that has brought them holiday fireworks and salmon festivals could bring disaster.
One day after the deterioration of an Oroville Dam spillway forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 people in the Sacramento Valley, a reservoir at the southern end of Santa Clara Valley flirted with an ominous milestone.
Gov. Jerry Brown asked the Trump administration for a federal disaster declaration for the emergency at Oroville Dam on Monday evening, citing the impending arrival of more storms and the potential need to resort again to the dam’s emergency spillway, which has been severely eroded.
As California waited Monday night to see if President Donald Trump would grant Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for emergency funding for 10,000 evacuees who lived in the shadow of the Oroville Dam, FEMA began preparing for the worse.
California’s recovery from drought has been so remarkably quick that reservoirs on the verge of record lows just a year ago are now too full to handle more rain, prompting dam operators across the state to unleash surpluses of water not seen in years.
Most of the time, motorists driving on Interstate 80 between Davis and here [Sacramento] look out on vast tracts of farms and wetlands. But over the last two weeks, something remarkable has happened in what is known as the Yolo Bypass.
After another round of heavy rains soaked parts of California, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency late Monday for several counties dealing with an estimated tens of million dollars in damage from flooding, erosion, and mud flows.
In the years before California’s drought, it wasn’t unusual for Sacramentans to spend winters worrying about floods. After more than five years with little rain, the past two weeks delivered a bracing reminder that the region remains vulnerable to rising waters and overtopped levees.
Rescue workers used boats and firetrucks to evacuate dozens of Northern California residents from their flooded homes Wednesday as a drought-busting series of storms began to move out of the region after days of heavy rain and snow that toppled trees and created havoc as far north as Portland, Oregon.
The Russian River surged to its highest level in a decade Wednesday and deepened flooding woes, while across the North Coast, crews in cities as well as rural areas scrambled to re-open roads, clear toppled trees, restore power and bring normalcy back to a region battered by four days of punishing winter storms.
A lull in a series of powerful winter storms gave Northern California a chance Monday to clean up from widespread flooding while also assessing how all that moisture is altering the state’s once-grim drought picture.
ARkStorm stands for an atmospheric river (“AR”) that carries precipitation levels expected to occur once every 1,000 years (“k”). The concept was presented in a 2011 report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) intended to elevate the visibility of the very real threats to human life, property and ecosystems posed by extreme storms on the West Coast.