California faces a “very significant risk” if a damaged spillway on the Oroville Dam, the nation’s tallest, is not fully operational by November 1, according to a report obtained by the Associated Press this week.
Sacramento’s Fox 40 is reporting that work crews have been working around the clock “hoping to prevent a repeat, or worse, of dramatic events that led to nearly 200,000 people being evacuated last month.”
If the repairs are not underway by June, there may be no way to finish the work before the rainy season begins, experts warn in the report.
“This is a very demanding schedule, as everyone recognizes. There seems to be no room anywhere to expand any part of the schedule,” the five-member expert team said in the report for state and federal water and dam-safety officials, according toSF Gate reports. “A very significant risk would be incurred if the Gated Spillway is not operational by November 1.”
Reports on the ground from local residents confirm the feverish activity at Oroville Dam, including the full-scale building of a concrete road in place of asphalt over the gravel base. But no one can see the spillway up close unless they’re on an approved list.
According to an in-depth analysis of the report by the Sacramento Bee, the main spillway is “riddled with design flaws and so badly damaged that an independent panel of experts hired by the state has concluded it’s probably impossible to repair” before the weather-imposed deadline of November 1.
On March 21st, Breitbart News joined other journalists on a flyover, and the resulting photos clearly corroborate the danger signals in the report. The massive crater in the main spillway forced officials to divert releases to the earthen emergency spillway — which had previously never been used.
California Department of Water Resources spokeswoman Lauren Bisnett said the agency’s goal “is to have a fully functional spillway before the start of the next storm season,” according to the Bee.
This is not the first time the region has been at risk from troubled dams.
On February 19th, 1986 the Bee reported on a massive braech the day before of a “cofferdam near Auburn, sending 100,000 acre-feet of water into Folsom Lake and filling it nearly to its 1 million acre-foot capacity.”
Experts and officials agree that Oroville is at crisis stage.
“I think it’s one of the most urgent infrastructure things you could imagine,” said Jay Lund, a civil engineering professor at UC Davis, according to a CBS Sacramento report.
One unique fix being suggested is to create a ramp—or “flip”— so the water being released down the damaged spillway jumps the massive crater, preventing further erosion.