Oroville Dam: Feds order California to design 'immediate' repairs

  • Oroville Dam: Feds order California to design 'immediate' repairs

Oroville Dam: Feds order California to design 'immediate' repairs

The Oroville Dam crisis has forced almost 200,000 people located downstream to evacuate, and it's not likely to be resolved quickly, based on the latest forecasts. This includes an emergency kit, a way to communicate with family members and other proactive steps to be prepared. Almost 200,000 people who live below the lake were evacuated Sunday amid concerns the dam might fail and send water downstream. "This is exactly why planning ahead is essential", said Pat Hogan, senior vice president of Electric Operations at PG&E.

The Oroville Reservoir is completely full and flowing over the emergency spillway for the first time in its 48-year history.

Also that year, officials in Sutter County, which the Feather River runs through dozens of miles downstream of the dam, asked federal regulators to "investigate the adequacy and structural integrity" of the hillside and how it would hold during "extreme flood releases".

On Friday, officials with the Butte County Sheriff's officials, in conjunction with CAL FIRE/Butte County Fire, California Office of Emergency Services and Oroville City officials announced that the Oroville Dam emergency spillway would be opened as early as Friday evening, but decided against it.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the emergency spillway began eroding when peak flows reached 12,600 cubic feet per second; however, the Department of Water Resources said the spillway was designed with a capacity of 450,000 cubic feet per second.

The threat from the spillway became clear on Sunday, when officials suddenly issued an evacuation order for the town of Oroville with just one hours' notice.

Construction of Oroville Dam began in 1961 and was completed in 1968.

Drone footage shot Monday shows emergency fix work beginning to shore up the emergency spillway using broken aggregate, and the washed-out roadway that connects to the one that crosses the dam itself. On Tuesday, engineers raced to drain the rain-swollen reservoir and dropped sacks of rocks into holes in the spillway in hopes of stabilizing it. In those guidelines, he said Monday, "they talk about how you don't put a lot of funding and concrete, etc. into emergency spillways because presumably they will rarely if ever be used".

Bill Croyle, the acting director of the Department of Water Resources, said Monday that he was "not sure anything went wrong".

Much like the water contamination in Flint represents an extreme of infrastructure risk across the country, the situation at Oroville Dam reveals challenges in dam infrastructure and management at large.