Tuesday, February 14, 2017

You've Probably Heard About The Oroville Dam Spillway

Sacramento is in no danger, but tens of thousands of people were evacuated.  They're being told that the immediate danger has passed and that they can return home:
With the crisis at the Oroville Dam stabilized for now, authorities announced Tuesday that the 188,000 people evacuated Sunday will be allowed to return to their homes but should prepare to move again if a new emergency arises.

The announcement by Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea, who ordered the mass exodus Sunday afternoon amid fears that the dam’s emergency spillway might collapse, came in a 1:40 p.m. press briefing in Oroville...

Despite that, officials said they are confident that the steps taken to repair the hillside along the emergency spillway – using helicopters to dump boulders into holes and pour concrete on top of the piles – have made the structure safe in the event that the emergency spillway must be used again.

They also said such a scenario is highly unlikely, with the next series of storms predicted to be much weaker than previous ones...

More storms are predicted to hit the area starting Thursday, but Croyle said they are not expected to be powerful enough to produce rainfall that will create another problem.

Meanwhile, a massive effort is underway to fill in erosion in front of the emergency spillway that led to officials ordering the evacuations. Authorities have 40 truckloads moving 30 tons of boulders every hour, two helicopters dumping rocks every 90 seconds and 125 construction crews at work.

“We’re aggressively attacking the erosion concerns that have been identified...,” Croyle said. “We have a long spring runoff ahead of us, and we’re prepared for that...”
You'd think that perhaps they'd be doing maintenance on dams all along, but we in California have other priorities:
The flood danger from the Oroville Dam receded Monday, but California was hit by a wave of criticism for failing to heed warnings about risks to the spillway at a time when the state spent generously on illegal immigrants and high-speed rail.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, came under fire amid reports that federal and state officials for years rebuffed or ignored calls to fortify the massive 50-year-old dam, which provides water to more than 20 million farmers and residential consumers...

 A radio talk show host, Mr. Donnelly said California “has been so busy defying President Donald Trump in order to protect illegal aliens from deportation that it forgot to do the things government is supposed to do, like maintain infrastructure. Governor Brown is now going hat-in-hand to beg the Trump administration for emergency funds.”
That's a bit of hyperbole, at least as far as raising the topic of defying the new president.  California has been spending money on illegals and building the bullet-train-from-nowhere-to-nowhere for many times longer than the few weeks Trump has been president.
Built in 1968, the Oroville Dam, located about 70 miles north of Sacramento on the Feather River, is the tallest dam in the nation at 770 feet, but environmental groups argue that the project’s infrastructure needs have been a low priority.

In 2005, advocacy groups led by Friends of the River urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order the state to reinforce the dam’s earthen walls with concrete, citing the erosion risk, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

The agency rejected the request on the recommendation of the state Department of Water Resources and local water agencies, which would have been on the hook for improvements that could have cost as much as $100 million.

Reinforcing the Oroville Dam was not included on Mr. Brown’s $100 billion wish list of projects prepared last month at the request of the National Governors Association in response to Mr. Trump’s call for $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements, CNBC reported.

One project that did make the list: California high-speed rail, a pet project of Mr. Brown’s with an estimated price tag of $100 billion that has become for state Republicans a symbol of out-of-control government spending.
What's just as bad, these reservoirs we have in California, and the dams that create them, aren't designed for water storage as much as they are for flood control.  That's partly why, for the past 5 years of drought, so much water has flowed out of our reservoirs--well, that, and we have to keep tiny fish that no one has ever seen alive (thank you environmentalists).  We haven't added water storage since the 1970s, despite the fact that our population has grown so much since then.

This is California, this is what you get when one party runs both houses of the legislature for so many decades.  Heckuva job, Brownie.


Mike Thiac said...


Correct me if I'm wrong, hasn't Brownie removed some dams his dad put in for "environmental" reasons?

Darren said...

Dams have been removed, yes. I don't know if the state or the feds did it, though.

Ellen K said...

We are downstream from a Corps of Engineers dam that showed signs of stress during the last rainy summer. The Lake Lewisville reservoir is outdated and needs repairs. Granted this is not the tallest, nor most extensive dam, but if it fails it would impact some of the fastest growing cities in the nation from I35 southward right through the heart of north Dallas suburbs. Of course as with other such infrastructure, it has been ignored in order to provide vote getting social services and feelgood programs. The most obvious result of this kind of misdirection of priorities was clearly seen in the failure of the levees after Katrina. Levee boards were supposed to collect taxes to maintain the integrity of the levees. Instead they spent the funds building parks, planting trees (in direct conflict to Corps of Engineer guidelines) and designing golf courses. When the levees failed it was oh so easy to blame Bush. But the real criminals were those on levee boards who failed to do their jobs. They got away with it. And this is why so many don't trust the media or government. It's time to stop feel good programs while necessary programs for our safety are allowed to rot. It's time for adults to start running the show and for self-serving babies to shut up. I'd love for every protester at Berkley to be required to offer sweat equity working on the Oroville dam as repayment for the money wasted paying police and business insurance to monitor their actions.

Auntie Ann said...

It's estimated that about $70 billion has been siphoned out of the Los Angeles road repair budget over the last several decades. As a result, LA roads are full of potholes and lots start washing away in the rain. There's an estimate that potholes cost every driver upwards of $500 per year in auto repair costs.

... And the 14 top bridges in the US in need of repair are in California, most in SoCal: http://www.artba.org/deficient-bridge-state-page/?y=2016&state=CA

Potholes and infrastructure don't vote.

Ellen Kudlicki said...

Auntie Ann, even in red state Texas, our urban centers are filled with liberal bureaucrats, many of them masquerading as Republicans. The Dallas mayor and Dallas County Sheriff have stopped just short of throwing out the welcome mat to make Dallas more of a sanctuary city than it already is. We live in a state where 25% of the drivers on the road are unlicensed and/or uninsured. Higher insurance rates equate to a surreptitious tax on responsible people yet when the proposal was made to boot the cars of those involved in accidents who could not provide documentation of insurance or license, the same folks who were taking the day off last Thursday ranted and raved how it was racist against the Hispanic community. In a similar vein, looking to quell the many wrong way drunk driver accidents and deaths on the North Dallas Tollway and I35E, a proposal was made to use a stop and check no refusal system that had worked wonder in suburban counties. But because of the existence of one of the largest after hours Tejano dance club in the nation, that too was labeled racist and never completed. And yes, Dallas has spent far too much money trying to redevelop blighted neighborhoods while leaving potholes and infrastructure unmaintained. If not for TXDot, we'd have little road work at all.