What went wrong with Oroville Dam?

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Take Action for Transparency and Resolution.
ASK your representative to call a hearing.
ATTEND the DWR public meeting in Chico tonight or in Sacramento on May 15th

Public informational meetings hosted by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR)

The spillway failures at Oroville Dam this past winter resulted in the evacuation of 188,000 people, economic impact to local communities, and damage to the Feather River from massive erosion and collapsed riverbanks. What went wrong, and how will reliable flood protection be assured for the future? The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) began hosting a series of public meetings to update communities about the spillway repair efforts, but many questions remained unanswered.

The public has a right to know what happened and to see a full assessment of the impacts. Last week, SYRCL and six other organizations filed a letter with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting a transparent process of clarification. FERC may not oblige this request without pressure from Congress.

SYRCL encourages citizens to reach out to their Representatives today, asking that they call for a hearing. Our partner organization, American Whitewater, has made it easy for you to send the message at this Action Site. Keep in mind that this is not a partisan issue. Our representatives will press for accountability if the interest from constituents is great enough.

SYRCL’s involvement in this issue is consistent with our actions going back to 2005 when, along with Friends of the River (FOR) and the Sierra Club, we intervened in the Oroville Dam relicensing process to point out the deficiencies of the emergency spillway and ask for greater protections. Last February, the spillway came very close to failing when flows reached just 10,000 cfs.

As an active participant in the Yuba Feather Workgroup from 2001 to 2006, SYRCL helped explore various flood improvement options, including the successfully built Feather River Levee Setback Project. SYRCL is a participant in the relicensing of the Yuba River Development Project where many improvements to both river condition and flood management are expected. Specifically, SYRCL appreciates the Yuba County Water Agency’s plans to add a new flood control outlet to New Bullards Bar Dam.

Caleb Dardick, executive director of SYRCL, said, “Flood protection is a critical interest that we share with communities in the Feather and Yuba River watersheds. Improved flood management is an important part of our work to unite communities to protect and restore our rivers.”

The last of DWR’s public meetings will be held in Sacramento on May 15th, beginning at 5:30 with presentations at 6:30, followed by Q&A. For more information, see DWR Oroville Outreach Meetings.

Oroville Dam spillway hole, California – February 9, 2017. Credit: Kelly M. Grow/ California Department of Water Resources
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