Now $870 million, price of Oroville Dam crisis jumps by a third

Oroville Dam’s battered flood-control spillways have been largely rebuilt, but the cost of last February’s near-disaster keeps rising. On Friday, state officials put the total price tag at $870 million.

The latest figure from the California Department of Water Resources represents a 32 percent increase from DWR’s estimate in October, when the cost was pegged at approximately $660 million.

State officials insist the climbing price tag is not from unexpected cost overruns. Instead, DWR spokeswoman Erin Mellon said the agency has finally been able to estimate the cost of recovery work that includes removal of debris from the Feather River channel below the dam; relocation of power transmission lines; staff time and other work that’s been undertaken since last winter’s crisis. Those costs came to $210 million.

“So it’s not a jump in costs at all,” she said.

Of the total $870 million cost, the largest expense is the reconstruction of the dam’s two badly damaged flood-control spillways. Mellon said the reconstruction work, which is proceeding in two phases and is expected to be completed this fall, is expected to cost $500 million. That estimate hasn’t changed since last October. …

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Oroville to file suit against state for dam failure

The city of Oroville announced plans Tuesday to sue the state’s Department of Water Resources, alleging decades of mismanagement were to blame for the Oroville Dam’s failure in February 2017 and the emergency evacuation of 188,000 people.

The suit, which city officials intend to file in Butte County Superior Court, calls on the DWR to cover millions of dollars in economic and infrastructure losses incurred by the dam’s failure.

Raging storms in early 2017 caused a crisis at the nation’s tallest dam, which controls water delivered to 25 million people across California. The heavy rains led DWR dam operators to release flows down the Feather River, but concerns arose when a crater appeared on the main spillway. …

Click here to read the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle

California orders closer look at these 93 dams after Oroville crisis

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

California officials have ordered owners of 93 dams to reinspect their flood-control spillways following the Oroville Dam crisis, saying the spillways need a closer look following a preliminary review.

The list released by the Department of Water Resources includes some of the largest dams in California, such as the New Exchequer Dam on the Merced River, New Bullards Bar on the Yuba River, and Lake Almanor Dam on the Feather River in Plumas County. Each holds back reservoirs roughly the size of Folsom Lake, which can store about 977,000 acre-feet of water.

Also on the list is New Don Pedro Dam, on the Tuolumne River, which is about twice the size of Folsom and contains the sixth largest reservoir in California.

DWR’s list also features scores of obscure facilities, including two owned along the American River by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District: Ice House and Union Valley dams.

The 93 dams represent less than 10 percent of the 1,250 dams overseen by the Department of Water Resources’ dam safety division. …

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