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Oroville Job Expedited to Meet Deadline

Monday, July 17, 2017

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The contractor leading efforts to demolish and rebuild two spillways that experienced failures earlier this year at California’s Oroville Dam is attempting to speed up work and accomplish more than originally planned in the first year of the two-year project—and to meet the project’s overall deadline.

Repairs at Oroville Dam
Brian Baer / California Department of Water Resources

The California Department of Water Resources has requested permission to demolish and repair more of Oroville Dam's main spillway this year so that the overall project can meet its deadline in 2018.

California’s Department of Water Resources filed a request last week with the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee for permission to replace an additional 240-foot stretch of the main spillway, based on general contractor Kiewit’s opinion that expediting the work this year is necessary in order to complete the whole project by its 2018 deadline.

‘As Soon as Possible’

The letter, dated July 10, asks for quick federal approval for the demolition and replacement of the spillway up to station 20+30. “The contractor has informed us that demolition to station 20+30 must commence as soon as possible to meet the project schedule.”

A spokesperson for the state’s Natural Resources Agency, which oversees the DWR, told the San Jose Mercury-News that the contractor wants to get as much done this year so that unforeseen circumstances like inclement weather don’t affect next year’s deadline.

“We want to get as much work as possible done when we have the time, weather and resources,” Erin Mellon told the newspaper. “The goal is to complete as much as we possibly can this year.”

February Crisis

About 188,000 residents of the Feather River valley were evacuated in February after a series of failures raised the risk of catastrophic flooding. The dam’s main spillway was initially taken out of service due to a massive patch of eroding concrete, and in the midst of heavy rainfall, the DWR began to direct water releases onto the never-before-used auxiliary spillway.

That spillway, though, began to erode badly, as it was never paved over with concrete. Erosion of the earth at the top of the spillway threatened to cause a failure of the concrete weir, which could have sent uncontrolled water into the Feather River.

The DWR averted disaster by returning the main spillway to limited service, and when the rainy season ended in the spring, the massive rehab effort began. In June, the agency noted that the hot, dry spring had sped up the efforts to replace the main spillway and build a proper emergency spillway.

   

Tagged categories: concrete; Contractors; Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); Locks and dams

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