Oroville Dam is the centerpiece and largest water storage facility of the State Water Project. Located about 70 miles north of Sacramento at the Feather River confluence, Oroville Dam creates a reservoir that can hold 3.5 million acre-feet of water.
Features such as a fish barrier dam and pool at Oroville Dam made the SWP one of the first major water projects built with environmental protections as a major consideration.
Besides storing water, the dam also protects downstream residents from the floodprone Feather River—the main feeder of the SWP— and provides major water recreation facilities such as boating, fishing and camping.
Major dams in California are five times more likely to flood this century than the last one due to global warming, a new study finds, possibly leading to overtopping and catastrophic failures that threaten costly repairs and evacuations. That means Californians can expect more disasters like the Oroville Dam, whose overflow channel failed in 2017 after days of flooding had filled state reservoirs to 85% of their capacity.
Lawyers representing the state Department of Water Resources will make their case Friday for striking portions of lawsuits over the spillway crisis filed by the city of Oroville, several farms, businesses and other plaintiffs. The state is arguing that certain “inflammatory and irrelevant” allegations should be removed from the lawsuits, including allegations about racist actions, sexual harassment and petty theft by DWR employees and conspiracy to cover up or destroy documents.
Thursday marks two years since the first hole opened up in the Oroville Dam Spillway, triggering an emergency that forced the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people. … The new emergency spillway is covered with roller-compacted concrete that looks like a giant staircase. It is one of the biggest changes during the reconstruction of the spillway project.
Workers were patching Oroville Dam’s weathered concrete spillway, nearly four years before a massive crater would tear it open. Michael Hopkins, an employee at the Department of Water Resources, alleges he saw something he would never forget. A legally deaf woman was assigned to drive a truck down the spillway and listen for hollow sounds in the concrete as her colleagues performed what’s known as “chain drag testing,” Hopkins wrote in a declaration filed last week in Sacramento Superior Court.
Several areas of the Oroville Dam and lake are undergoing extensive renovations and improvements, and the Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee met Friday to hear reports from the various member organizations overseeing them. … Aaron Wright of the California Department of Parks and Recreation said that several of the recently reopened areas near the dam have received a good amount of traffic.
The earthquakes hit just days after last year’s near-catastrophe at Oroville Dam, when the spillway cracked amid heavy rains and 188,000 people fled in fear of flooding. The timing of the two small tremors about 75 miles north of Sacramento was curious, and frightening.
The new year will mark a half-century since a “seismic” shift in geology unfolded. Eldridge Moores was a key thinker in that shift. … I [Craig Miller] got another dose of that enduring youthfulness two years ago, chasing after him as he led me – at a brisk pace — down to the Yuba River bank. We were in search of the kind of “incompetent” rock that contributed to the catastrophic collapse of two spillways at Oroville Dam.
Dam inspectors overlooked technical details during safety evaluations that could have identified structural problems with the Oroville Dam spillway before it broke during heavy rains in February 2017, according to an assessment ordered by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC assembled an independent, six-person panel to assess the safety inspections that are required every five years for the roughly 2,500 hydropower facilities that FERC regulates.
Employees of the state Department of Water Resources, with the help of firefighting crews, were cutting brush and watering down landscapes around Lake Oroville to prevent the 117,000-acre blaze from damaging the reservoir’s infrastructure, including the 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam.
A trial date has been set to hear several lawsuits against the state Department of Water Resources over the Oroville Dam crisis. The court scheduled the trial for June 1, 2020 during the second case management conference Friday in the Sacramento County Superior Court.
Federal regulators are raising new concerns about the troubled Oroville Dam, telling California officials their recently rebuilt flood-control spillways likely couldn’t handle a mega-flood. Although the chances of such a disastrous storm are considered extremely unlikely — the magnitude of flooding in the federal warning is far greater than anything ever experienced — national dam safety experts say the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s concerns could have costly repercussions for California.
State officials said Wednesday the damaged Oroville Dam flood-control spillway is ready for the rainy season, and will be able to fully blast water down its half-mile long concrete chute for the first time in nearly two years if lake levels rise. Work on the adjacent emergency spillway is ongoing.
A request from the state Department of Water Resources to temporarily make more than 50 miles of trails in Oroville open to multiple user groups has been denied by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. DWR proposed this with backing from the Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee, or ORAC, as a compensation for trail closures as a result of the 2017 Oroville Dam spillway emergency.
Explore the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we learn about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.
All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants will get an on-site update of Oroville Dam spillway repairs.
The state Department of Water Resources still expects to meet its quickly approaching Nov. 1 deadline to have all concrete placed on the Oroville Dam’s main spillway. Crews began by placing permanent concrete slabs at the bottom of the spillway of the nation’s tallest dam, making their way to the top. Now, the upper chute is about three-quarters of the way complete, DWR reported in a moderated media call on Wednesday.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law Sen. Jim Nielsen’s bill to form a citizens advisory commission for the Oroville Dam. Senate Bill 955 creates a 19-member commission to provide a forum for residents and state officials to discuss reports, maintenance and other ongoing issues related to the dam.
Fixing the Oroville Dam spillway wrecked by storms in 2017 will cost $1.1 billion — a $455-million hike from initial estimates — the state Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday. The swelling cost can be blamed on design changes that have been made over the last 16 months and damage to the facility near Oroville, Calif., that was far more extensive than initially presumed, the department said.
The north side of the Oroville Dam Diversion Pool will be open to hikers and bicycles for the Labor Day weekend, and the pool itself will be open for kayakers. … On Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, a walk guided by State Parks staff will explore vestiges of pioneer settlements, grandiose Gold Rush schemes, and the train tunnel during the construction of the dam, as well as native plants and animals seen along the way.
Butte County has filed another lawsuit against the state Department of Water Resources, this time for damages from the Oroville Dam crisis that continue to increase. The county is seeking compensation for damage to its roads, which heavy equipment is still utilizing for construction efforts, and also for costs associated with responding to the spillway emergency in February 2017.
A 30-foot-wide section of temporary wall on the upper chute of the Oroville Dam spillway fell over late last week, the state Department of Water Resources confirmed on Monday. The collapse did not impact construction deadlines and resulted in no injuries, according to the department.
The local oversight committee spearheaded by Assemblyman James Gallagher and Sen. Jim Nielsen had some suggestions this week for the state Department of Water Resources on its assessment of the Oroville Dam. This comes about a month after the committee met for the first time on July 18.
Eighteen months after the dramatic failure of the spillways at Oroville Dam in Northern California, a disaster that led to the evacuation of 188,000 people, construction is on schedule to complete the concrete work in the main spillway by Nov. 1. … On Monday, Lake Oroville was 51 percent full, or 73 percent of its historic average for this date.
Crews have begun to place the final layer of concrete this week on the upper portion of the Oroville Dam spillway chute. This marks a “crucial milestone,” said Tony Meyers, project manager for the recovery project for the state Department of Water Resources, in a moderated media call on Wednesday.
Another attempt by the state Department of Water Resources to have the Butte County District Attorney’s lawsuit against the department thrown out was thwarted Friday. The civil suit stem from the Oroville Dam crisis and the alleged 3.4 billion to 5.1 billion pounds of debris which fell from the collapsing spillway into the Feather River in February 2017.
The independent review board hired by the state Department of Water Resources to put outside eyes on an assessment which will play a large role in the future operations of the Oroville Dam has released its first report. Suggestions for infrastructure changes like the construction of a second gated spillway are expected to be considered through what DWR is calling a comprehensive needs assessment.
Fran Obrigewitsch pulled up the most recent photo on her iPhone of the Oroville Dam spillway, taken just two days before it started to collapse last year. Her first chance to catch another glimpse was Monday, as the state Department of Water Resources reopened the stretch of Oro Dam Boulevard East that offers views of the spillway to the general public for the first time since the crisis began.
A historic first meeting between state Department of Water Resources officials and local leaders as a committee solidified that the community will have a say in the future of Oroville Dam operations. … The committee is being led by co-chairs Assemblyman James Gallagher, Sen. Jim Nielsen and DWR’s John Yarbrough.
Enhancements to several Lake Oroville recreation areas are in the works this summer as the state Department of Water Resources makes good on its promise to improve lake access ahead of the Oroville Dam relicensing. Some means of getting more people out on the water include adding boat launch lanes and parking spots and providing free shuttle services.
Phase two of construction on the Oroville Dam’s main and emergency spillways is speeding along, as the Oroville Mercury-Register got to see up close in a tour on Wednesday guided by state Department of Water Resources officials. With half of the main spillway currently a work in progress, the department’s goal is to have the structure ready to use, if needed, by Nov. 1 — just under four months away.
A local oversight committee will get to have a say as long-term changes are considered for the Oroville Dam, after Sen. Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher recently came to an agreement with the state Department of Water Resources.
Concrete pouring is due to start Monday on the second half of the Oroville Dam emergency spillway “splash pad.” That’s the only milestone reported Wednesday during a media call on progress to repair the emergency spillway and main spillway, which sustained serious damage in February 2017.
An Inland Empire water wholesaler is poised to get a boost in state funding for its effort to create a new local water supply that would provide ecological benefits in Northern California. The California Water Commission has tentatively approved nearly $207 million in Prop. 1 water bond funds for the Inland Empire Utilities Agency’s Chino Basin Conjunctive Use Environmental Water Storage/Exchange Program.
Heading to Lake Oroville for the holiday weekend? It can be tricky to keep track of what areas are open to the public, with construction ongoing at the Oroville Dam spillways. To help with your plans, here is some information on the accessible trails, boat launches and other recreational areas.
A Butte County Superior Court judge will determine where lawsuits against the state Department of Water Resources for the Oroville Dam crisis will be considered in a written ruling. This comes as Judge Tamara Mosbarger heard arguments on Friday from plaintiffs and the defendant.
The largest proposal is an $8.8-billion bond for water supply and storage efforts including water recycling, stormwater capture, restoring fish habitats and repairing the spillways of the Oroville Dam that were damaged in 2017.
The Diversion Pool below Oroville Dam and the trails on both sides of it will be partially open Friday through the Fourth of July, the Department of Water Resources announced Wednesday. The report came during a conference call to update media on the status of work to repair the spillways, which were heavily damaged in February 2017.
The U.S. Senate passed on Monday the 2019 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill, which requires an independent risk analysis of Oroville Dam. Additionally, the bill would order the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to report the findings of an independent panel reviewing the state Department of Water Resources’ dam safety practices to the Senate committee.
The state Department of Water Resources announced plans on Friday to draw Lake Oroville down to 808 feet elevation by early next week. This is to provide a second point of access to the upper chute of the Oroville Dam spillway, through the radial gates, for construction.
The state Department of Water Resources has beefed up its response to the independent forensic report on what caused the Oroville Dam spillway failure last year. The report, released on Jan. 5, described how insufficient maintenance and repairs and faulty original design allowed water to seep through the spillway’s cracks and joints. It also blamed “long-term systemic failure” on the part of DWR, regulators and the dam safety industry at large.
A lawsuit filed by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey against the state Department of Water Resources over environmental damages resulting from the Oroville Dam spillway crisis is moving forward in court. Butte County Superior Court Judge Stephen Benson overruled DWR’s demurrer, which is essentially a plea to have a case dismissed, through a written ruling filed on May 31.
An excavator slid down the Oroville Dam spillway slope on Sunday morning, resulting in minor injuries to its operator, the state Department of Water Resources confirmed on Wednesday. Erin Mellon, assistant director of public affairs for DWR, said that the operator immediately got back to work after the accident, which is currently under investigation by the department and Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the lead contractor for the construction project.
Bald eagles booted out of their nest last year during the Oroville Dam spillway crisis have proven to be quite the resilient pair, making a new home for themselves and successfully hatching two little ones. During the incident last February, the state Department of Water Resources had to reroute powerlines that used to cross the spillway slope.
The Oroville Strong! advocacy group is going by a new name and hoping to increase its reach to those in the greater area who have been affected by the spillway crisis. The new entity called the Feather River Recovery Alliance will be headed by some of the same leaders; however, it will be disassociated from the Oroville Chamber of Commerce.
The opening of the Diversion Pool last weekend to kayakers and hikers appears to have been a big success according to all involved, and it may happen again. “We’ve already been discussing it with our partners and probably will,” State Parks District Superintendent Aaron Wright said Thursday, “but I can’t commit to that now.”
Two bills proposed by Assemblyman James Gallagher, one of which would have taken the State Water Project from the state Department of Water Resources and another which would have provided funding for school resource officers, failed on Friday to pass through the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The second and final phase of reconstruction continues at the Oroville Dam spillways. … A flight over the location last week during a break in Butte County Sheriff’s Office helicopter training exercise, showed that much original concrete at the top of the chute has been removed, along with the walls.
Californians this year will vote on not one but two water bond measures totaling $13 billion. Given that the state still hasn’t spent all of the $7.5 billion from the Proposition 1 water bond passed in 2014, it raises a crucial question: Does California really need another $13 billion in water bonds?
In order to get boaters and swimmers back to Lake Oroville after the Oroville Dam spillway was damaged in 2017, state agencies have announced they will waive fees for the recreational area on select days over the summer.
While work to repair the main Oroville Dam spillway will largely be done by Nov. 1, in response to a question, the Department of Water Resources clarified that work on the emergency spillway will continue into 2019.
Construction work began just after midnight Tuesday morning on phase 2 of the repairs to the Oroville Dam main spillway. The Department of Water Resources had been granted permission by federal and state regulators to start work May 8, and contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West didn’t waste any time.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently told north state congressmen Doug LaMalfa and John Garamendi that the agency is still reviewing whether the state Department of Water Resources is eligible for further reimbursement to fix the Oroville Dam spillway.
The NOR-CAL Guides and Sportsmen’s Association and other fishing groups had spent more than a year pressuring state dam and fish-hatchery managers to raise extra fish to make up for the ones the fishing groups say were lost after the Oroville Dam spillway collapsed in February 2017.
A bill proposed by Assemblyman James Gallagher which would take the State Water Project out of the hands of the state Department of Water Resources passed unanimously on Tuesday through a legislative committee. Assembly Bill 3045 passed 15-0 through the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
The extreme weather swings experienced by Californians the past six years — a historic drought followed by drenching winter storms that caused $100 million in damage to San Jose and wrecked the spillway at Oroville Dam — will become the norm over coming generations, a new study has found.
The U.S. Geological Survey over the last year has recorded dozens of weak and shallow earthquakes near Oroville Dam and its spillways. And nearly all the tremors — including a magnitude-0.8 quake recorded Wednesday — share the same designation: “Chemical explosion.”
While some construction continues at Oroville Dam, the bulk of work under phase two is expected to begin May 8, state Department of Water Resources officials said Wednesday in a monthly media update call. This comes as DWR submitted an updated 2017-2018 Lake Oroville operations plan on Tuesday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Division of Safety of Dams for approval.
After a spring storm system dumped 5 to 7 inches of rain into the Feather River basin over the weekend, state officials said Sunday they likely won’t have to use the partly rebuilt flood control spillway at Oroville Dam after all.
Northern California is bracing for a major spring storm that is expected to dump several inches of rain on burn-scarred areas of wine country and could present the first test of the partially repaired spillway at the nation’s tallest dam.
Flash floods, rising rivers and mudslides are possible across Northern California as a storm that’s more January than April barrels in from the Pacific, the National Weather Service warns. “This is not the time of year when we see these big precipitation events,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA.
Oroville Dam operators said Tuesday they may have to release water over a partially rebuilt spillway for the first time since repairs began on the badly damaged structure last summer. Department of Water Resources officials said anticipated storms could trigger releases this week or next.
With a pounding storm headed for California, state water officials said Tuesday that Oroville Dam’s crumbled spillway could get its first test since being rebuilt in the wake of last year’s near-catastrophe.
The flows have been shut off through the Hyatt Powerhouse at the base of Oroville Dam, and the lake is beginning to rise. And that’s all by design, according to the state Department of Water Resources.
Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. said on Wednesday that construction of the underground wall below the Oroville Dam emergency spillway completed in early March. The 1,450 feet long wall, drilled 35-65 feet into bedrock, is one preventative measure against the type of erosion that occurred there last year, should the emergency spillway ever be used again.
A bill introduced by Sen. Jim Nielsen that would create a citizens advisory commission for the Oroville Dam was amended in the Senate last week. This comes as the Oroville Dam Coalition has been lobbying over the past year for more community involvement, including through a citizens oversight committee, as a reaction to the spillway crisis in February 2017.
State Parks workers were pulling cable up a launch ramp at Bidwell Marina Thursday because the water level in Lake Oroville is on the rise. March’s storms have brought the lake level up almost 13 feet since the start of the month, according to the Department of Water Resources website.
The state Department of Water Resources submitted its plan to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Tuesday to address findings in the independent forensic report. The extensive forensic report, released on Jan. 5, blamed “long-term systematic failure,” including faulty design and insufficient maintenance, for the Oroville Dam crisis in February 2017.
On the 90th anniversary of the catastrophic failure of the St. Francis Dam, dam safety experts worry that the Oroville Dam crisis showed that some of those crucial lessons have been forgotten — or were never retained in the first place.
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday that seeks to beef up dam inspections following a near disaster that caused the evacuation of almost 200,000 people living downstream from the tallest one in the United States. The measure implements several recommendations from experts who reviewed the crisis at Oroville Dam last year.
Though the final phase of repair work on the main spillway at Lake Oroville is now on the back burner until spring, Department of Water Resources officials said crews are making significant progress on repairing the emergency spillway.
Until February 2017, the calls that came to Butte 2-1-1 ranged from quelling stress, and finding support organizations, to locating low-cost diapers. But for a few weeks after the Oroville Dam spillway disaster, the calls were desperate, seeking evacuation routes, hunting for surviving relatives, and wondering when residents could return home.
Assemblyman James Gallagher rounded up a group of bipartisan legislators to visit Oroville on Thursday, where they met with community members and toured the now-infamous dam. Representatives of districts ranging from southern to northern California came to better understand the place where the evacuation of about 188,000 people occurred just over a year ago.
Locals who lost business or saw their property value decrease because of the Oroville Dam crisis are anxious to be reimbursed through a class action lawsuit filed last week. … There is a variety of plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, including a child care facility, a water ski shop, a ranch and a ministry.
A year ago, nearly 200,000 Northern California residents were alarmed by an alert from the state Department of Water Resources informing them of the potential failure of the auxiliary spillway at the Oroville Dam. … Everything department officials do at the Oroville Dam affects our [state Sen. Jim Nielsen] community — from the water level to the outflow.
One year after the worst structural failures at a major U.S. dam in a generation, federal regulators who oversee California’s half-century-old, towering Oroville Dam say they are looking hard at how they overlooked its built-in weaknesses for decades.
Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey has filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Water Resources seeking $34 billion to $51 billion in civil penalties for environmental damage following the failure of the Oroville Dam spillways last February.
Butte County prosecutors are seeking up to $51 billion in fines and penalties against California’s water agency for damage caused to local river-based wildlife after the Oroville dam spillway failure last year, officials said.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced Wednesday that his office filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Water Resources for environmental damages to the Feather River as a result of the Oroville Dam crisis.
Nine individuals or entities from Yuba-Sutter are suing the California Department of Water Resources for more than $27 million in damages suffered as a consequence of the Lake Oroville spillway crisis last February.
Last winter, California’s Democratic leaders were feeling cautiously optimistic that they could work with President Donald Trump to spur desperately needed infrastructure investment in the state. One year into the Trump administration, the prospects for bipartisan partnership on the issue have dimmed.
Oroville Dam’s battered flood-control spillways have been largely rebuilt, but the cost of last February’s near-disaster keeps rising. On Friday, state officials put the total price tag at $870 million.
Local leaders are pressing the state Department of Water Resources for details on how residents will be involved in the community needs assessment. Department officials have said that constructing additional infrastructure at Oroville Dam, including a second gated spillway and a fully lined emergency spillway, would be considered as part of the assessment.
The state Department of Water Resources could have lost control of the spillway radial gates for days during the Oroville Dam crisis if crucial power lines had gone down, according to department officials. DWR leaders Cindy Messer and Joel Ledesma stated this Jan. 10 during a legislative oversight hearing on the dam at the State Capitol.
After a 5-month stint running California’s Department of Water Resources, Grant Davis was reappointed Tuesday to his prior job as general manager of the Sonoma County Water Agency. The Board of Supervisors, acting as directors of the Water Agency, unanimously agreed to reinstate Davis, commending him as a trusted leader with a proven track record in the area.
An investigation into last winter’s near catastrophe at Oroville Dam uncovered a litany of problems with how the dam was built and maintained, but one of them stands out: Even as workers built the dam, they were raising alarms about the eroded, crumbling rock on which they were directed to lay concrete for the 3,000-foot-long main flood control spillway.
The city of Oroville filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Water Resources Wednesday which alleges fabricated maintenance reports, racial discrimination and decades of mismanagement led to the Oroville Dam spillway failure last February.
Signaling what could be a wave of lawsuits arising from last year’s spillway crisis, the city of Oroville is planning to file a complaint Wednesday against the state Department of Water Resources for damages it says it suffered during and after the emergency. About 188,000 people were evacuated from communities along the Feather River after the failure of Oroville Dam’s main spillway last Feb. 7.
The verdict is in and California stands convicted of gross negligence in the construction and maintenance of the nation’s highest dam, Oroville. The dam on the Feather River came very close to failing last year, forcing the evacuation of a quarter-million people living downstream. … Clearly, for decades there was no willingness at DWR [California Department of Water Resources] to acknowledge the fundamental nature of the flaws and spend money to repair them.
Grant Davis, director of the California Water Resources Department, was replaced Wednesday just days after an independent investigation of the Oroville dam spillway incident last year found that a flawed safety culture contributed to the disaster. The agency said Gov. Jerry Brown replaced Davis with Karla Nemeth, who has been deputy secretary and senior advisor for water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency since 2014.
Starting with the damaged Oroville Dam, California seemed to careen from disaster to disaster in 2017. The dam’s spillway alone is projected to cost more than $500 million to repair. … [Gov. Jerry] Brown maintains that the state will face more weather-related extremes in years ahead because of climate change.
California water officials have always insisted public safety was their only concern as they struggled with the crisis unfolding last February at Oroville Dam. The forensic team investigating what happened at Lake Oroville, however, has pinpointed another factor guiding the decisions made by the Department of Water Resources: the state’s desire to continue shipping water to faraway farms and cities that rely on deliveries from the reservoir.
The spillway failures at Oroville Dam that prompted tens of thousands to flee for their lives last winter were the result of years of mistakes, lax inspections and lazy repairs by the state’s water agency, a team of independent dam experts reported Friday. Their conclusions: State water managers should not have built the dam’s primary spillway on faulty bedrock.
Less than nine months after two massive holes formed in Lake Oroville’s main spillway, construction crews wrapped up their first phase of rebuilding it. Some local residents have expressed concerns that the quick turnover could result in faults or design flaws, but an official with the Department of Water Resources said if any crew can accomplish the feat, it would be Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.
The independent team of experts investigating the dramatic failure of the spillways last February at Oroville Dam that led to the evacuation of 188,000 people has concluded that California water officials were “overconfident and complacent” and gave “inadequate priority for dam safety,” according to a final report released Friday.
The forensic team investigating the February emergency at Oroville Dam blasted the California Department of Water Resources on Friday, saying the dam’s owner and operator did a poor job of designing, building and maintaining the structure and neglected safety while focusing on the “water delivery needs” of its customers to the south.
State Department of Water Resources officials recently met with Oroville Dam Coalition members to consider their ideas for the Oroville Wildlife Area project, but announced later the same day that the department had different plans.
Elected officials and other groups representing those living below the troubled Oroville Dam have asked the Trump administration to hold off on renewing its 50-year license, saying the federal government should at least know why the spillway broke in half last winter before signing off.
There were many takeaways from last February’s Lake Oroville spillway incident, but one very alarming one: a large number of Yuba-Sutter residents who evacuated said they experienced issues with leaving the area, mainly due to traffic congestion. And a startling number of residents reported that they stayed home instead of fleeing, risking their lives in the event the emergency spillway did collapse.
The near-disaster at Oroville Dam last February brought damage claims flooding into the state by the hundreds – shops and restaurants that lost business, farms that got overwhelmed by surges in water, cities and counties buried in evacuation expenses. Most claims argue that the state is responsible for the emergency because it ignored warning signs about the condition of the dam’s spillway.
The Oroville Dam spillway crisis this past February is still under investigation – all sorts of investigations, including concerns about vegetation and cracking. Officials say the problems have been mitigated, plus, this water year might not be as wet as last.
The previously secret state Department of Water Resources memorandum explaining the hairline cracks in the Oroville Dam spillway is now public. The document provides more details on how Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., the contractor for spillway reconstruction, tried to reduce shrinkage, which leads to cracking in concrete.
Yuba-Sutter residents voiced concerns to the Department of Water Resources over a variety of issues Thursday night, including the hairline cracks that have appeared on the reconstructed spillway, a need for more transparency moving forward, and the significant amount of sediment buildup in the Feather River brought about by the Lake Oroville incident last February and plans – or lack thereof – to clear it out.
Northern California residents living in the shadow of the nation’s tallest dam vented decades of frustration with state water managers Wednesday, telling officials they have no credibility when they say hairline cracks in a newly rebuilt spillway are nothing to worry about.
It might be another year or so until reconstruction of the main spillway at Lake Oroville is officially complete, but Department of Water Resources officials say the structure is ready for whatever this winter can throw at it, even if there are a few cracks here and there.
Phase two of construction at Oroville Dam — with work on both spillways — might prove more challenging than the first feat, the contractor’s project director said in a media call Thursday. … DWR [California Department of Water Resources] will hold two community meetings next week.
Oroville’s mayor said Thursday she knew about cracks in the replacement spillway at the troubled dam nearby and is not concerned, but heaped criticism on state water officials for failing to communicate with her town. Linda Dahlmeier said the Department of Water Resources should have proactively communicated that cracks were expected but has instead created a “firestorm” in a community that was rattled by sudden evacuation orders last February.
Politicians and river guides are calling upon the state Department of Water Resources to mitigate sediment build up in the Feather River following the Oroville Dam crisis. … The state Department of Water Resources is currently assessing the impacts of sediment on the river system, with the study expected to be complete in December, said Jon Ericson, acting division chief for the division of flood management.
Hairline cracks have been detected in sections of the newly reconstructed flood-control spillway at Oroville Dam. State and federal officials said they’re confident the cracks don’t pose a safety problem and don’t need to be repaired.
Several small cracks have been discovered on the Oroville Dam’s newly rebuilt concrete spillway, prompting federal regulators to express concern about the $500 million construction project under way at the troubled facility. But state water officials said Tuesday that the series of millimeter-wide cracks on the surface of the main spillway pose no structural problems for the nation’s tallest dam.
Federal regulators have asked the officials who operate Oroville Dam — and who are in charge of the $500 million-plus effort to rebuild and reinforce the facility’s compromised spillways — to explain small cracks that have appeared in recently rebuilt sections of the dam’s massive concrete flood-control chute.
This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.
All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour participants got an on-site update of repair efforts on the Oroville Dam spillway.
Sen. Jim Nielsen, Assemblyman James Gallagher, and members of the Oroville Dam Coalition are seeking federal assistance on issues relating to the dam they say need to be resolved. They met with commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and representatives for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
State Sen. Jim Nielsen, Assemblyman James Gallagher and Oroville Dam Coalition members are heading to Washington, D.C., this week to address what they say are outstanding issues following the spillway crisis.
Reps. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, Monday introduced to a bill that would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct an additional environmental review of the Oroville Dam. The congressmen would like to see a review done before the commission approves the relicensing of the dam under state Department of Water Resources’ management.
The rains that swept into Northern California this weekend from the Gulf of Alaska didn’t turn out to be as extensive as forecasters had expected. … Work crews continue to repair the main spillway and emergency spillways at Oroville Dam in Butte County, which were heavily damaged in February during the massive atmospheric river storms that ended California’s five-year drought.
The Oroville Dam flood control spillway has been fixed. … In addition, [state Department of Water Resources Director Grant] Davis said “repairs and updates” are already being made at some of the 93 other dams around California where the state ordered intensive inspections in the wake of the Oroville crisis.
California is launching an overall safety review of the nation’s tallest dam to pinpoint any needed upgrades in the half-century-old structure, water officials said Wednesday, launching the kind of overarching review called for by an independent national panel of experts in September following the collapse of two spillways at Oroville Dam.
Crews are laying the last layer of concrete on the Oroville Dam spillway with one day until the state Department of Water Resources’ deadline to have the structure ready to pass flows of 100,000 cubic-feet per second, or cfs.
The state Department of Water Resources plans to clear mounds of rock from the Gold Rush days at the Oroville Wildlife Area and put them to use in the rebuilding of the spillways at Oroville Dam. DWR received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to a filing made last week.
Survey results largely showed that respondents weren’t happy with how things went down this past February at the Lake Oroville spillways and the events that followed. Most respondents expressed their concerns were with the California Department of Water Resources.
The cost of repairing the crippling damage to Oroville Dam’s spillways caused by last winter’s fierce storms has almost doubled, state water officials said Thursday. … Jeff Petersen, project manager for Kiewit, said that once construction workers got on the site they discovered they had to dig much deeper to get down to bedrock than they had expected.
In one of the fastest-paced civic construction jobs in recent U.S. history, hundreds of carpenters, operating engineers and iron workers are rushing to complete repairs to the damaged Oroville Dam spillway. The crews are trying to beat a Nov. 1 deadline and the Northern California rainy season, which once again will begin to fill the massive reservoir behind the nation’s highest dam.
A plan has been prepared for flood control operations this rainy season at Oroville Dam, which call for keeping the lake lower and aggressively releasing water if the water level rises above trigger points. Up to now, the dam has been operated under rules drafted by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1970, which set a maximum lake surface elevation target of 848.5 feet above sea level for November through April, and 870.1 feet in May.
The state Department of Water Resources intends to open the spillway boat launch ramp after construction at the dam is complete, but there is a possibility it will stay out of commission, according to a department official. The spillway boat launch is the largest on the lake, with up to 12 lanes when the water is high enough.
With just more than two weeks until the initial reconstruction of the main spillway at Lake Oroville is supposed to be completed, the Department of Water Resources released operations plan for the reservoir for this coming flood season.
In February, a huge hole opened in the Lake Oroville main spillway. The cause of the hole is still undetermined. … State and federal agencies devised a plan to quickly repair or replace the structures at the lake.
The north state assemblyman who represents Oroville, where the threat of a dam collapse in February forced 188,000 downstream residents to evacuate, is racing to tighten inspection standards before the end of the legislative session Friday night.
State lawmakers responsible for the safety of residents downstream from Lake Oroville applaud the Department of Water Resources reconstruction to the dam’s damaged primary and emergency spillways, but the lawmakers still want answers and accountability for the cause of February’s near-catastrophe.
A single photograph of rapid erosion below Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway — and an unidentified geologist’s worried question about whether the local sheriff knew how dire the situation might be — were the key events that led to the evacuation of 180,000 people living along the Feather River on Feb. 12.
In the confusion and chaos of the emergency at Oroville Dam, as thousands of residents were being evacuated, public safety officials and others involved in managing the crisis found themselves clashing with the people operating the nation’s tallest dam.
A towering spillway at the nation’s tallest dam was crumbling, and tens of thousands of people were fleeing for their lives. But as darkness fell, state officials realized dealing with the unfolding crisis in Northern California was about to get even worse: They couldn’t see.
Faulty design, construction and repairs of the main Oroville Dam spillway allowed water to seep under its floor and build up, lifting a concrete slab Feb. 7 into the water flowing down the chute, starting a chain of events that largely wrecked the structure.
Bad design and construction of the tallest U.S. dam a half-century ago and inadequate state and federal oversight since then led to a disastrous spillway collapse in February, an independent national team of dam safety experts said Tuesday as they urged tougher safety reviews nationwide.
A team investigating the Oroville Dam spillway breach in February said it has not seen evidence that a comprehensive review of its construction and design has ever been conducted since it was built nearly 40 years ago. … Agencies like the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Shasta Dam, do more comprehensive construction and design reviews.
A team of independent experts charged Tuesday that the state and federal officials who inspected Oroville Dam relied too heavily on visual inspections, ignoring blueprints, construction records and other documented clues that could have warned them about the dam’s troubled flood-control spillway long before it fractured in February. … The forensic team’s report brought a swift response from Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, whose constituents were among those evacuated.
The most detailed report yet on what went wrong at Oroville Dam last winter when 180,000 people fled amid fears of flooding found that state and federal officials failed to uncover long-standing construction and maintenance issues at the nation’s tallest dam.
The UC Berkeley group analyzing the state Department of Water Resources’ response to the spillway crisis is still not satisfied with the department’s explanation for Oroville Dam’s “green spot” in a report released earlier this week.
The state Department of Water Resources has released a report on the Oroville Dam’s “green spot,” declaring the extensive area of persistent moisture on the face of the dam is due to seasonally trapped rainfall and poses no threat to the dam’s integrity.
It’s been six months since a failure of the Oroville Dam Spillway led to the evacuation nearly 200,000 people, including hundreds who took refuge at an evacuation center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds as well as hotels in the Grass Valley and Nevada City area.
A man has been sentenced to 13 years in state prison after pleading no contest to charges he broke into an Oroville market during the Oroville Dam spillway evacuations in February, Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced Friday.
The Oroville City Council fired off a critical letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, criticizing how the Department of Water Resources operates Oroville Dam and demanding a host of changes.
Construction at the Lake Oroville spillways is on schedule to meet a Nov. 1 deadline for this year’s repairs, according to the Department of Water Resources. The department has passed the midway point on its construction timeline for this year’s repairs on the main spillway, which was badly damaged during high February releases.
The state Department of Water Resources is beginning to lay the gravel foundation for spawning salmon. This comes as much of the gravel was washed away with high flows from the Oroville Dam spillway this winter.
The failure of the Oroville spillway in February led people to notice a large green spot on Lake Oroville’s dam. The spot has been there for years, but the questions remain as to whether it’s a sign the dam is leaking.
Federal disaster officials have agreed to chip in $22.8 million to help California pay the estimated $500 million cost of the Oroville Dam crisis. … Department of Water Resources spokeswoman Erin Mellon said Wednesday during a biweekly conference call with reporters that she expects more money to come the state’s way.
Consider a couple of scenarios for big trouble at Oroville Dam: First: The facility’s main concrete spillway suffers serious damage, resulting in erosion of the rock beneath it — and potentially threatening the safety of the dam itself.
Friday is the deadline to file a claim with the state government to have a chance of being reimbursed for damages suffered during the Oroville Dam spillway emergency. … Residents may be eligible to receive money to compensate for travel expenses, damage to property, and loss of salary or benefits.
Several Oroville city councilors have voiced criticism about the mayor’s communication with representatives of the state Department of Water Resources and the State Water Contractors during the height of the Oroville Dam crisis.
One week before the deadline to formally seek payment from the state of California for damages stemming from the Oroville Dam’s spillway failure this year, the state has received 93 claims worth a combined $1.1 billion.
Six months ago, relentless winter storms dumped nearly 13 inches of rain in four days on the Sierra Foothills, tearing an enormous hole in the spillway at Oroville Dam, the nation’s highest, and leading to an unprecedented emergency that prompted the evacuation of 188,000 people from nearby towns. Today, what could have been ground zero for America’s worst dam disaster is now a hotbed of construction activity.
Work crews with heavy machinery started emergency repairs Thursday to a levee that protects Yuba City, and was damaged by high flows during the Oroville Dam spillway emergency. The $28.5 million project will create a seepage cutoff wall and rebuild 2.9-miles of levee along the west side of the Feather River that protect 80,000 people.
Lawyers filed a $15 million government claim on Tuesday on behalf of walnut farmers who say they lost more than two dozen acres of land along the Feather River when the Oroville Dam spillway failed in February, causing massive flooding and destructive erosion in the area below.
Drone video released by the California Department of Water Resources shows how repairs are moving along at the Oroville Dam’s main spillway, which crumbled during the extremely wet winter and forced the evacuation of 180,000 people.
Officials in charge of repairing the damaged spillways at Lake Oroville said they’ve received the needed authorization from state and federal agencies for 2017 construction plans. The plan now is to continue preparing the demolished main spillway for concrete to be poured over the next few weeks.
A new report from a UC Berkeley group researching what caused the Lake Oroville spillway to fail in February is concerned that a green spot on the nation’s tallest dam might mean it is leaking. This is not the first time the “green spot” on the southern end of Oroville Dam has been brought up.
Slowly – but surely – we are learning that the near-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam’s main spillway wasn’t truly caused by weather, even though the state claims that in seeking federal aid for repairs. Rather, it resulted from poor engineering and construction when the nation’s highest dam was rising more than a half-century ago as the centerpiece of the State Water Project, and poor maintenance since its completion.
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.
In 2017, it is likely that no other water story grabbed as many headlines in California and across the country as the flood incident at Oroville Dam, the centerpiece of the State Water Project and its largest water storage facility.
On our upcoming Northern California Tour, we will spend time at the Oroville Dam visitor’s center and meet with California Department of Water Resources staff. You’ll see drone footage from February’s flood incident, learn the engineering background on what led to it, and hear about plans to stabilize the spillway before the next winter storms and to finalize repairs by 2018.
Many lake users have complained to the state about fewer recreational opportunities on the lake in the aftermath of the Lake Oroville spillway disaster in February. Since then, the lake level has dropped significantly, meaning boaters have farther to walk after parking their vehicles at the high-water line.
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.