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Oroville Emergency Spillway Nears Completion

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

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The two-year anniversary of the Oroville Dam spillway crisis, which prompted the evacuation of 188,000 people, marks the rebuilding of the spillway and new legislation related to dam safety.

Though the California Department of Water Resources announced that the main spillway was ready for use by November, some other minor work is still being completed, including site clean-up.

Oroville Dam Crisis

The Oroville spillway failed on Feb. 7, 2017, setting in motion a crisis when heavy rains forced the DWR to release water onto the never-used auxiliary spillway; the earthen auxiliary spillway eroded, threatening the stability of the concrete weir holding back the water of Lake Oroville.

The DWR set Nov. 1, 2017, as the initial deadline to get everything back in working order before the next rainy season; as a temporary measure, much of the spillway was filled last year with roller-compacted concrete. The deadline for the completion of the full reconstruction of the spillways was slated for Nov. 1 of 2018, when the last concrete slabs were to be put in place.

In August, the DWR noted that a 30-foot-wide section of temporary wall along the Oroville Dam’s upper chute had collapsed. It did not impact project deadlines.

In November, the DWR reported that the $1.1 billion spillway was ready for the winter season. The final erosion-resistant concrete slab was put in place on the main spillway on Oct. 11; crews placed 378 in 2018, amounting to 612 ERC slabs used total in the repair work. The last ERC wall was placed a week later. Work is now down to minor finishing work, including sidewall back fill and site clean-up.

Two-Year Anniversary Update

According to the Chico Enterprise Record, contractors are currently working on bringing the hillside back to its natural condition with grading and hydroseeding; the work is slated for completion in the spring of this year. Additionally, work to place a concrete cap on top of a new buttress made of roller-compacted concrete is currently being carried out on the emergency spillway.

A dam safety group, led by Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, and John Yarbrough of the DWR, met for the third time in early January, engaging with community leaders, water agency representatives and the Independent Review Board. The group is working toward producing a comprehensive needs assessment for the Oroville Dam, which is slated for completion in 2020.

The 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, signed into law last year, mandates an independent review of the Oroville Dam, and also requires the Dam’s licensee to request nominations for independent consultants from the U.S. Society of Dams.


Tagged categories: concrete; Infrastructure; Locks and dams; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management

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