Wednesday, March 29, 2017


by Bob Walsh

Big-wigs from California's Department of Water Resources on Monday assured the people of the Oroville region and California in general that the issues with the massive Oroville dam can be fixed by November 1. I wouldn't bet 75 cents on that being true.

The spillway that needs to be repaired or replaced is almost 3,000 feet long. The ground underneath it is not solid and in fact a lot of the problem was apparently caused by seepage coming up under the too-thin structure, breaking it up from underneath like a local road crashing into a sinkhole caused by a broken water pipe.

They say their final plan will be unveiled by early next week at the latest. A design concept must be chosen, approved and bid. A contractor selected and work done, all in barely seven months. Among other things they need to build a new first-quality road to the dam site to move heavy equipment over, a LOT of heavy equipment. The old road was destroyed when the emergency spillway overtopped.

The power plant at the base of the dam can handle less than 20,000 CFS at maximum flow, which is MUCH LESS than the lake will be taking in from snow-melt and runoff during the summer. There was real fear a few weeks ago that the overtopping of the emergency spillway could result in a failure of the emergency spillway, sending a massive wall of water into beautiful downtown Oroville. As it was the emergency spillway was damaged and they had to keep releasing water from the primary spillway gates, further damaging the spillway, to prevent a major structural failure.

The state can't decide what brand of paper towels to buy for state offices in seven months. Anybody think they can do this in that time?


Anonymous said...

Arnold could have fixed it in short order!

bob walsh said...

I'm not so sure about that. Remember the Bay Bridge fix. Way over time and way over budget. He was largely responsible for that, or at least his administration was.