Tags: Homeland Security | california | dam | Oroville

Calif. On Its Own for Dam Fix

Calif. On Its Own for Dam Fix

Water flowing through the break in the wall of the Oroville, Calif. dam spillway. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)    

By Tuesday, 14 February 2017 10:57 AM Current | Bio | Archive

It’s too bad reading the Bible is so out of fashion in California today. Residents near Lake Oroville might find some comfort in the Old Testament as they endure a spate of biblical weather.

California politicians may have decided the state is a sanctuary for illegal aliens, but they evidently can’t provide sanctuary from the weather.

For the past few weeks California has been experiencing what The Sacramento Bee calls "extraordinarily rainy weather." This comes after a number of years of extraordinarily dry weather.

Unfortunately this time when it rains, it is pouring.

The Oroville Dam has been undergoing tremendous pressure from rising water. Officials with the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) have been releasing water from the dam, but as it pours down the 3,000 feet spillway it caused a split and the spillway has started eroding.

There is now a crater in the spillway that threatens the structural integrity. Strangely enough, this doesn’t cause a sense of urgency with CDWR officialdom. In 2009 "minor" cracks were found.

Then in 2013 more cracks were found and supposedly repaired.

One engineer was quoted as observing with water coming down a chute and slamming into the spillway at 50 miles per hour, "spillway erosion is a natural thing."

Residents below the dam weren’t quite so sure.

As of Saturday the experts didn’t expect water flow over the spillway to exceed 75,000 cubic feet per second. That's supposed to be well within the capabilities of levees that broke and were repaired after flooding in 1997.

Only the flow didn't peak at 75,000 cubic feet per second.

On Sunday the flow was 100,000 cubic feet per second and the spillway erosion danger increased dramatically. "A large section of concrete at the bottom of the spillway had already collapsed by Sunday, the initial cause of the emergency.

"As more of the main spillway collapses, it could threaten the spillway’s gates and force officials to stop releasing water into the main spillway, Joe Countryman, a member of the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, said. That would likely be catastrophic." 

That’s why an evacuation was ordered for 188,000 people living downstream.

Let’s hope the spillway and the dam holds — and no one loses life or property.

In the meantime, California officials are looking at repair cost for the spillway and the cost is daunting. Estimates run between $100 and $200 million.

Expenses would normally be allocated between the state and the various regional water agencies. Although acting director of the CDWR Bill Coyle "raised the prospect of getting federal dollars to help with fixes."

Good luck with that.

As one commentator observed, "How's that secession coming along? America wants you to go it alone now."

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

Let’s hope the Oroville, Calif. dam holds, and that no one loses life or property. California officials are looking at the repair cost for the spillway. A daunting $100 to $200 million. Good luck with getting federal help for fixes.
california, dam, Oroville
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 10:57 AM
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