Thursday, 27 April, 2017

Documents provide play-by-play of dam crisis response

Repairs at Lake Oroville carry quarter billion dollar pricetag Kiewit to begin work repairing Oroville Dam spillway
Theresa Hayes | 20 April, 2017, 06:21

The state refuses to release details of the three bids, contending “they contain design information that could cause a security risk if released.” Thus the public may never know the real reason why the spillways failed, forcing the two-day evacuation of 180,000 people downstream of the dam.

Last February, approximately 188,000 people were evacuated due to the threat of the emergency spillway of the Oroville Dam, the United States' tallest dam, failing and unleashing flood waters.

Then, a backup spillway started falling apart, triggering the evacuation order for almost 200,000 people.

Efforts are underway to make repairs to both the primary and auxiliary spillways at Lake Oroville.

The construction company was the lowest responsive bid, and was giving notice to begin work on Monday, moving forward with DWR's recovery plan to ensure a system that can accodommate heavy inflows from the Feather River watershed to Lake Oroville safetly.

Using the spillway was necessary because enough water can't be released through the powerhouse underneath the dam to keep up with the inflow.

State water officials say the crisis was managed as effectively as possible. In a public statement, dam managers say there is "no imminent threat to the public or the dam".

Managers at the nation's tallest dam made a critical mistake by allowing the lake behind it reach its highest level ever. State officials later say the second spillway is "operating as intended". The state agency "has earned a grade of "F" on its ability to timely and completely communicate during this incident", Administrator Mark Sorensen writes. He orders the immediate evacuation of almost 200,000 people.

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