Lessons from Oroville

Oroville Dam gained worldwide attention in February 2017 when crumbling spillways at the nation’s tallest dam triggered one of the largest evacuations in California history. The near catastrophe remains a socioeconomic blow to downstream communities. It will require substantial ecological remediation, as more than 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment washed into the Feather River below Oroville Dam—enough to cover a football field 80 stories high.

While repair work is moving forward at Oroville, significant issues remain to be addressed. This incident is a wake-up call for action on several fronts at this facility and at thousands of other high-hazard dams in the United States. Dam operators and regulators must ensure a safe and reliable water system that protects communities and the rivers that flow through them. A warming climate with changing precipitation patterns is putting even greater pressure on these dams and underscores the urgency.

The Oroville Dam 2017 Spillway Incident: Lessons from the Feather River Basin makes 18 recommendations and dozens of sub-recommendations. It calls for action to address California’s aging dam infrastructure, operate dams more safely and efficiently, advance multi-benefit flood management projects, and increase transparency and public engagement.

The Oroville Dam 2017 Spillway Incident: Lessons from the Feather River Basin

Download the executive summary (PDF)
Download the full report (PDF)

 

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