The Sacramento Valley, the northern part of the Central Valley, spreads through 10 counties north of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta (Delta). Sacramento is an important agricultural region, growing citrus, nuts and rice among many other crops.
Water flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the region’s two major rivers — the Sacramento and American – and west into the Delta. Other rivers include the Cosumnes, which is the largest free-flowing river in the Central Valley, the lower Feather, Bear and Yuba.
The Sacramento Valley attracts more than 2 million ducks and geese each winter to its seasonal marshes along the Pacific Flyway. Species include northern pintails, snow geese, tundra swans, sandhill cranes, mallards, grebes, peregrine falcons, heron, egrets, and hawks.
A steady stream of trucks has started carrying dirt to what will be a new levee to protect Hamilton City. The trucks started rolling Monday, carrying dirt from a pile at the north end of Canal Road that is left from the excavation of the Glenn-Colusa Canal.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday that the additional money would be available to the Hamilton City Flood Damage Reduction and Ecosystem Restoration Project in the current fiscal year. … It is the first in the nation being constructed under the Corps’ guidelines to develop projects that include both flood risk reduction and ecosystem restoration.
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.
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.
The California Water Commission – the entity responsible for awarding $2.7 billion in Proposition 1 funds to water storage projects in a few months – didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with officials pushing for Sites Reservoir, primarily on the benefits to salmon the project would provide.
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.
One billion dollars isn’t enough, Sites Reservoir supporters say. Despite being eligible for $1 billion in Proposition 1 funds from the state, a top official with the group spearheading Sites Reservoir said the state is failing to see the big picture in terms of the benefits the project would provide California, namely its endangered salmon.
The California Water Commission announced Friday that the Sites Reservoir project was eligible for $1 billion in Proposition 1 funds, up from $933 million the commission had said it might receive last month. … The commission also signaled more support for a small groundwater storage proposed by the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District.
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.
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.
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.
Sites Project Authority officials recently appealed the California Water Commission’s initial public benefit score in hopes of improving their pitch for a chunk of the $2.7 billion in available Proposition 1 funding for state water storage projects.
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.
Despite the heat that often accompanies debates over setting aside water for the environment, there are instances where California stakeholders have forged agreements to provide guaranteed water for fish. Here are two examples cited by the Public Policy Institute of California in its report arguing for an environmental water right.
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.
Modifications were made to construction plans for an upcoming phase of the Marysville Ring Levee project. … The Marysville Levee Commission, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are proposing changes to their original plans for an area located along the existing levee to the southwest of Marysville, between the Fifth Street Bridge and E Street Bridge.
With the threat of another drought looming, federal officials announced water allocations Tuesday that gave the city of Redding a full complement of water, but other water agencies, such as the Bella Vista Water District, were left with uncertainty.
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.
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.
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.
The view from Don Murphy’s expansive backyard is breathtaking. The Sacramento River rolls gently past as birds float in the mid-winter fog. It is nearly silent, except for the infrequent car driving along a delta road across the river. … Now a fight is heating up over who should have access to that serenity.
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.
The project is called the Fish Food on Floodplain Farm Fields Project. It’s part of a greater effort to restore threatened fish species — the Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program. The project comes at a key time: A recent UC Davis study suggests that winter run chinook salmon could go extinct if efforts to recover the species aren’t taken up.
The Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are currently testing Folsom Dam’s auxiliary spillway, part of the official commissioning of the newly constructed structure. The Corps, in cooperation with Reclamation, are testing all of the major systems in the structure, ensuring that the facility operates as intended in the design. The tests, underway this week and next, include operating and releasing water from all six new auxiliary spillway radial gates.
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.
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.
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 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.
A team of researchers and Marysville rice farmers initiated a study this week in Yuba County to see if introducing fish to a flooded rice field could both reduce methane emissions and allow for a new reliable protein source.
The Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency got to work on emergency levee repairs following last winter’s high waters and the Oroville Dam evacuation. Seepage, boils, sink holes and water erosion were signs of severe distress. The $28.5 million project, mostly funded by the state, is geared up to complete by Christmas.
Biologists assumed baby winter-run Chinook salmon hung out in the Sacramento River where they hatched until they grew large enough to make the trip downstream to the Pacific Ocean. A recently released scientific study challenges that assumption – and may have implications in how fisheries agencies manage Sacramento Valley waterways to protect the critically endangered fish.
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.
It appears this is an average year for the number of fall-fun Chinook Salmon returning to spawn in the American River. The numbers were expected to be much lower because of high water temperatures and predators when the fish were juveniles heading to the ocean during the drought.
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.
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. This year, special attention will be paid to the flood event at Oroville Dam and the efforts to repair the dam spillway before the next rainy season.
This 3-day, 2-night tour travels across the Sacramento Valley and follows the river north from Sacramento through Chico to Redding and Lake Shasta, where participants take a houseboat ride.
Water tests at school drinking fountains across Northern California found dangerous levels of lead and other metals, prompting school officials to shut down the fountains. However, thousands of schools across California have not participated in a state-funded program to test their drinking water, according to an investigation by KCRA 3.
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.
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.
Even living here on the West Coast, Marion Townsend decided to act as floods ravaged Texas and hurricanes pounded the Caribbean in recent weeks. Her Sacramento neighborhood slopes downward from a levee that separates it from the American River, in an area that officials concede never should have been settled but is home to 100,000 residents.
Considering the events of this past winter and the problems they posed to Yuba-Sutter levees, officials are confident the improvements made over the past several months will withstand the upcoming flood season.
California needs to spend another $100 million a year to keep the state’s levee system sound, according to state flood control experts. At a press conference marking flood preparedness week Monday at a levee repair site near Sacramento, Bill Edgar, president of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board said the levees will need a $17 billion to $21 billion investment over the next 30 years to protect the seven million Californians at flood risk.
Over the past several weeks crews have been out on Whiskeytown Lake repairing the temperature curtains in the water near the Visitors Center. … The curtains are an important part of the bureau’s Central Valley Project, which includes Trinity and Lewiston dams and Shasta and Keswick dams.
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.
Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration think two main factors caused low numbers of spring-run chinook salmon to return this year: drought and abnormally warm temperatures.
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.
This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries through a scenic landscape as we 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. This year, special attention was paid to the flood event at Oroville Dam and the efforts to repair the dam spillway before the next rainy season.
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.
Where are all the fish? That’s what hatchery workers are wondering, left scratching their heads after seeing low levels for spring-run Chinook salmon – about a third of the average for this time period.
After big natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, federal officials often tighten up flood protection standards. That’s what happened in California after Hurricane Katrina twelve years ago. But many flood-prone communities are still struggling to meet those standards, including Sacramento, one of the riskiest flood zones in the country.
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.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin are the two major rivers in the Central Valley that feed the Delta, the hub of California’s water supply network.
Our last two water tours of 2017 will take in-depth looks at how these rivers are managed and used for agriculture, cities and the environment. You’ll see infrastructure, learn about efforts to restore salmon runs and talk to people with expertise on these rivers.
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.
Sites Reservoir has been talked about for decades, but now that project officials — and backed by 70 major allies — have formally submitted an application for state bond money, the question arises: Will this $5 billion project actually come to pass?
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.
Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on dams, levees and bypasses to keep Sacramento and other Central Valley towns and cities from flooding, but experts say the infrastructure would prove no match for a megastorm like the one that pummeled Houston this week.
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.
Each year, participants on the Northern California Water Tour enjoy three days exploring the Sacramento Valley during the temperate fall. Join us as we travel along the Sacramento and Feather rivers through a scenic landscape and learn about issues associated with storing and delivering the state’s water supply.
The [McClellan] Air Force has consistently denied that toxins have escaped the base boundaries and contaminated drinking water supplies, but a series of new lawsuits by two area water districts seeking $1.4 billion in damages has renewed concerns among some who spent years drinking water from area pipes and wells.
Sacramento County led a cascade of area governments suing the state in an effort to block the Delta tunnels, saying the $17 billion project would harm local farmers, endangered fish and low-income communities at the south end of the county.
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.
In a sweeping legal fight that could affect drinking water supplies for thousands of Sacramento-area residents, two water districts near the old McClellan Air Force Base are suing the federal government for $1.4 billion to clean up the cancer-causing chemical hexavalent chromium from the area’s groundwater supplies.
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.
The heavy work is now underway on emergency repairs to the nearly 3 miles of levee protecting the heart of Yuba City. The Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency received federal approval Tuesday night to proceed wth the work.
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.
The deadline is Aug. 14 to apply for water storage funding from the Proposition 1 bond measure voters approved in 2014, and while the folks working to build Sites Reservoir will be applying, they don’t need the money. Enough water agencies have agreed to invest in the reservoir near Maxwell that it can be built without taxpayer funds, according to Sites Project Authority General Manager Jim Watson.
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.
Northern California farmer John Duarte, facing millions of dollars in fines for plowing a Sacramento Valley wheat field, previously sought help from President Donald Trump’s attorney general and EPA chief to get the government off his back. Now Duarte is making an 11th-hour bid for a dismissal of the federal government’s high-profile case against him.
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.
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.
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.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa doesn’t want a new license issued for Oroville Dam until some safety questions are answered and some commitments are made to local government. LaMalfa, R-Richvale, sent a letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur requesting the delay.
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.
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.
A California farmer facing a $2.8 million fine for allegedly plowing seasonal wetlands on his 450-acre Tehama County land lashed out Friday against federal prosecutors and bureaucrats for what he called an abuse of government power.
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.
From hundreds of fish annually to nearly 9,000 per year, Butte Creek salmon are thriving, thanks to a project begun 20 years ago. That project was celebrated Thursday at Gorrill Ranch on the Midway. … Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior for the Clinton administration, helped bring the players to the negotiating table to get the Butte Creek Salmon Recovery Project, completed in the late 1990s.
California farmer John Duarte, facing a hefty fine over water-law violations for plowing a field, wants to call in a big gun in his high-profile court case in Sacramento: Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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.
Quick thinkers who came up with a plan to rescue millions of salmon using fresh water from fire hydrants during the Oroville Dam emergency were recognized for their efforts Sunday by legislators, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and other entities.
In the latest skirmish over transparency at the troubled Oroville Dam, a Northern California activist group has sued state officials alleging they’re illegally withholding information about potentially toxic asbestos.
State officials released a strategic plan Friday aimed at reducing risks associated with different stages of migration for salmon and steelhead throughout the Sacramento Valley river system. “These resiliency strategies are an exciting new path for improving conditions for fish and wildlife in the Sacramento Valley,” said David Guy, president of the Northern California Water Association.
Pieces of the Feather River Fish Hatchery have been patched back together in time for the return of spring-run chinook salmon. However, the shoveling, shifting and trucking will continue for a while until its smooth swimming for the important fish-rearing station on Table Mountain Boulevard.
State and federal agencies have big plans to change the way water flows through Anderson River Park. … The test pits are being dug to prepare for a project that would create a place where young salmon can eat, grow and get ready for their migration out to the Pacific Ocean, officials said.
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.
Not just concrete and rebar, but “human and organizational” factors that could have contributed to the emergency at the Oroville Dam spillway will be included in the investigation currently underway by an independent team of experts assembled by two national dam associations.
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.