aside Breaking News: The Oroville Dam Has Stopped Its Overflow

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Oroville Dam

As per KCRA (Oroville, CA.) updates on 2/13/17 by Sarah Heise, it looks like that water has stopped spilling over Oroville Dam auxiliary spillway. By late last night, experts were already believing that the crisis had been mitigated. There is not an update as to when the 188,000 evacuees can return to their homes.

Excerpts from report:

“While more than 180,000 residents remain evacuated from their homes in Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties, there is no timetable as to when people can return home as water officials and engineers assess the damage and situation at the two damaged Oroville Dam spillways, the Butte County sheriff said Monday.

 “As tensions remain high around the area, some good news came early Monday morning when water levels at Lake Oroville dropped below capacity, stopping water from spilling over the potentially hazardous emergency spillway.”Image result for photos of oroville dam

The following is per 2/13/17 LA Times by Chris Megerian:”Officials say they’re still releasing 100,000 cubic feet per second from the paved spillway. No water going over emergency spillway at this point.”

“It’s hard to look at a crystal ball and predict how it’s going to evolve,” said Kevin Lawson of Cal Fire.”

“The flow into the lake is roughly 37,000 cubic feet per second, so they’re shedding a net 60,000 or so cubic feet per second.”

“They’re hoping to drop 8 feet per day.”

“It’s unclear if they’ll hit the target of lowering the lake by 50 feet before the next rain hits. But they’re expecting a smaller level of precipitation at a cooler temperature, so it may not run into the lake as quickly, giving them more time.”

“We’re going to deal with that as it comes in,” said acting DWR director Bill Croyle.”

“There were questions about problems with the emergency spillway, which began eroding instead of serving its function.”

“I’m not sure anything went wrong,” Croyle said. “This was a new, never happened before event.”

“When the press conference ended, Croyle left for an updated briefing on spillway conditions. They have not started dropping rocks from helicopters at this point, but they’ve been staging supplies.”

“Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea shot down rumors the evacuation could end Monday afternoon. They’re working on a “repopulation” plan but there’s no timeline.”

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Oroville Dam on 2/11/17
This should have been part of the infrastructure bill that the republican President Donald Trump had promised his followers. Why hasn’t this been one of his top priorities as it would provide for extra living pay wage jobs almost immediately? Why am I not hearing more about this from our US congress.
The rest of the story…

As per 2/12/17 Mercury News, experts knew about problems with the Oroville Dam about 12 years ago. Here are excerpts from the article, “Oroville Dam: Feds and state officials ignored warnings 12 years ago by Paul Rogers:”

“More than a decade ago, federal and state officials and some of California’s largest water agencies rejected concerns that the massive earthen spillway at Oroville Dam — at risk of collapse Sunday (2/12/17) night and prompting the evacuation of 185,000 people — could erode during heavy winter rains and cause a catastrophe.”

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Oroville 2/13/17

“Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s re-licensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.”

“The groups filed the motion with FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They said that the dam, built and owned by the state of California, and finished in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards because in the event of extreme rain and flooding, fast-rising water would overwhelm the main concrete spillway, then flow down the emergency spillway, and that could cause heavy erosion that would create flooding for communities downstream, but also could cause a failure, known as “loss of crest control.”

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Oroville Dam12/12/17

“A loss of crest control could not only cause additional damage to project lands and facilities but also cause damages and threaten lives in the protected floodplain downstream,” the groups wrote.”

“FERC rejected that request, however, after the state Department of Water Resources, and the water agencies that would likely have had to pay the bill for the upgrades, said they were unnecessary. Those agencies included the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people in Los Angeles, San Diego and other areas, along with the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 agencies that buy water from the state of California through the State Water Project. The association includes the Metropolitan Water District, Kern County Water Agency, the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Alameda County Water District.”

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“Federal officials at the time said that the emergency spillway was designed to handle 350,000 cubic feet per second and the concerns were overblown.”

“It is important to recognize that during a rare event with the emergency spillway flowing at its design capacity, spillway operations would not affect reservoir control or endanger the dam,” wrote John Onderdonk, a senior civil engineer with FERC, in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s San Francisco Office, in a July 27, 2006, memo to his managers.”

“The emergency spillway meets FERC’s engineering guidelines for an emergency spillway,” he added. “The guidelines specify that during a rare flood event, it is acceptable for the emergency spillway to sustain  damage.”