The Department of Water Resources announced last week that they had met their goal of reconstructing the main spillway at Oroville Dam by Nov. 1.
They’re prepared for the upcoming winter, spokespersons for DWR said. The new spillway is good to go. DWR kept storage down through the past year to accommodate work and to have extra capacity for runoff had there been rainy weather before the cutoff date.
We can appreciate the DWR folks wanting to pat themselves on the back a bit for having this great big project done. Still, it would be better if they were patting themselves on the back for having prevented the problem in the first place. The problem with the spillway that resulted in severe damage wasn’t caught until it was too late, hence, 10s of thousands of us downstream from the dam had to evacuate for fear of severe flooding.
There is still more work to be done, of course. But concrete on the main spillway will have cured by Dec. 1, they reported – in time for the rainy season and use of the main spillway as necessary. In the meantime, they are doing finishing work.
“More than 700 construction workers, many of them from Butte County and other parts of Northern California, literally worked day and night to make incredible progress during the 2018 construction season,” said Tony Meyers, DWR project manager for the Oroville Spillways Emergency Recovery Project.
There was also work on the emergency spillway – that’s the part of the structure that could have given way and allowed a wall of water to be released.
Operations plans call for DWR to maintain a lower-than-average lake level during the winter months to provide operational flexibility to ensure flood protection, meet water deliveries, environmental requirements and prevent use of the emergency spillway this winter. Construction will continue on the emergency spillway in 2019.
It’s no real surprise that the construction goal was met, with well-seasoned contractors ... and the fact that the state threw a billion bucks at the problem.
We congratulate the state agency for getting the work done. Here’s hoping they’ve got the accountability part taken care of, as well.
Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.