One year after the Oroville Dam’s concrete spillway ruptured on Feb. 7, 2017, crews working day and night have made the most critical repairs to what has become an $870 million project. Kiewit Corp. of Omaha, Neb., fixed the dam’s main spillway and an emergency spillway that also was damaged by unprecedented water releases forced by record rainfall in Northern California.
The work has continued in 2018, while the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Washington, D.C., discuss the extent to which the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay for repairs. Meanwhile, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation that codified the annual inspections DWR already conducts of the vast majority of the 1,249 dams the department oversees. The law requires “low hazard potential” dams be evaluated at least every other year.
The Sacramento Bee » Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that would tighten dam inspection standards following last year’s near catastrophe at Oroville Dam. On Monday, Brown signed Assembly Bill 1270. The bill codifies practices that state dam officials already were largely doing, but that the state’s Water Code only required they perform “from time to time.”
The Mercury News » The state Department of Water Resources is still expecting the federal government to pay the bulk of the cost of repairing the Lake Oroville spillways. The estimated cost is up to $870 million, and north state congressmen had indicated the Federal Emergency Management Agency had some doubts whether it could reimburse costs for a redesigned structure.
Action News Now » The Department of Water Resources is expecting to resume work on the main Oroville Dam Spillway chute in the beginning of May as long as the weather allows. In terms of the dollar amount, that number remains at $870 million, and the DWR is operating as if FEMA will reimburse about 75% of that cost. Most of the work this year has been focused on the emergency spillway.
The Sacramento Bee » A gaping hole was discovered in the Oroville Dam main spillway on Feb. 7, 2017, marking the start of a crisis that eventually led to the evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents. A little over a year later, work continues between the emergency spillway weir and cut-off wall, prepping the ground for the splashpad.
CBS » Assembly Bill 1270 calls for closer, more detailed inspections of the Oroville Dam and new protocols, which include taking a deeper dive into the original design of the dam. The author of the bill, Assemblyman James Gallagher, is pushing for more oversight at the Oroville Dam and more in-depth inspections which he says up until now, were superficial.
U.S. News » The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is telling owners of the 1,700 other hydroelectric dams it regulates nationally that it expects them to look equally hard at their own organizations and aging dams, in the wake of the sudden collapse of much of first one, then both spillways last February at the 770-foot-tall (235-meter-tall) Oroville Dam, the nation’s tallest.
The Sacramento Bee » The state got hit with another lawsuit over the Oroville Dam emergency, and this one is enormous. Butte County’s district attorney sued the Department of Water Resources on Wednesday for the environmental damage created by last February’s crisis. In particular, District Attorney Michael Ramsey said DWR should have to pay between $34 billion and $51 billion for the tons of concrete, rock and other debris that fell into the Feather River below the dam.
Oroville Mercury Register » Water has resumed flowing through the Hyatt Powerhouse at the base of Oroville Dam. The releases were shut off about 7 a.m. Wednesday for what was called routine maintenance. A few hours later, a small fire forced evacuation of the hydroelectric power plant, but California Department of Water Resources officials said the incidents were not related and the powerhouse was not damaged.
The Mercury News » While it has been assumed the federal government will pay 75 percent of the now-$870 million cost for repairing the Oroville Dam spillways, the agency that actually would allocate the money has been hedging on whether that is the case. FEMA has stated it can’t fund a project where the agency determines there was a “lack of maintenance,” and can only provide reimbursements to bring facilities back to their “pre-disaster design,” according to the release.
NBC Bay Area » The memo questions whether the seven dams, which are similar in age, design and construction to Oroville Dam, may have, “potential geologic, structural or performance issues that could jeopardize their ability to safely pass a flood event.” All seven dams listed, along with Oroville Dam, are owned and operated by California DWR.
SF Gate » The costs of dealing with last year’s near-disaster at the nation’s tallest dam have reached $870 million, California officials said Friday. The figure for emergency response and repairs following the crisis at Northern California’s Oroville Dam should stand, said Erin Mellon, spokeswoman for the state Department of Water Resources. The total was pegged at $660 million in October.
The Mercury News » 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. This has since led some local groups to wonder why there was no backup power supply.
KCRA 3 » Officials with the city of Oroville are scheduled to announce Wednesday that they are suing the state of California for “its failure to properly manage the Oroville Dam” nearly a year after thousands of people were forced to evacuate in fear that the Lake Oroville spillway could fail, flooding the region.