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.
Chico Enterprise-Record » 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.
Chico Enterprise-Record » The state Department of Water Resources said periodic shaking at the dam picked up by USGS monitors has been caused by controlled blasts supporting construction efforts at the site, where workers have been repairing the dam’s main spillway after it crumbled last year, among other projects. So far in April, the USGS has recorded at least three chemical explosions around the main spillway.
The Sacramento Bee » Last week, the California Department of Water Resources said the storm might cause water levels in the Lake Oroville reservoir to rise to the “trigger elevation” of 830 feet. At that point, DWR officials planned to open the spillway gates and release water down the 3,000-foot-long concrete chute. But the lake level only reached 799.7 feet over the weekend.
San Francisco Chronicle » 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.
Chico Enterprise-Record » There was quite a buzz around Oroville last week about aerial photos that showed a wet streak down the face of the repaired main Oroville Dam spillway. But it was something that had been expected, and the Department of Water Resources said as early as January that it might happen.
Chico Enterprise-News » 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.
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.