State officials hoping water level recedes at Oroville spillway

Tuesday at 9 a.m., the lake's level had dropped to 888.68 feet, about 12 feet below the Oroville Dam's capacity of 901 feet.

"We're preparing for that next weather system coming in", said Orrock. "The emergency spillway meets FERC's engineering guidelines for an emergency spillway". For now, officials are cautiously optimistic. So far, the water has dropped 5 feet and they're hoping it drops close to 50 feet before the next rain rolls in. "The level was dropping about a foot every three hours".

The next wave of rainfall will come overnight Wednesday into Thursday, CNN Senior Meteorologist Dave Hennen said.

Will that be enough to overwhelm the dam's spillways?

The same thing was happening at Shasta Dam, which boosted releases to 79,000 cubic feet per second on February 13 and raised flooding concerns for residents and farms along the Sacramento River.

The spillway damage forced the evacuation of 188,000 people. There is no word yet on when the evacuation order will be lifted for the area.

"Getting those people home is important to me I want that to happen as absolutely as soon as possible, but I have to be able to sleep at night knowing they're back into that area", Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Monday evening. "We did this because our primary objective is to ensure public safety".

"It was miserable", Pat Dailey told CNN affiliate KGO. "We're talking about the danger to life and property". "We won't go back, until they tell us it's safe". That could cause significant problems if the state's infrastructure isn't ready, they said. Local authorities started releasing water down the regular spillway, which was damaged by a sinkhole and has stopped drainage of the lake. Operators on Sunday noticed water was gouging a hole in the earthen emergency spillway as well. It can't be fixed immediately and needs to be used through March, which marks the end of what's been a very heavy rainy season. Engineers can release excess water through these chutes in a controlled manner in order to prevent flooding. Normal flows down the main spillway are about 55,000 cubic feet per second.

Engineers have now stopped flow to the emergency spillway and are flowing 100,00 cubic feet per second out of the main spillway to decrease stress on the structure, according to Fox News.

On Sunday afternoon, almost 200,000 people were told to evacuate from the river valley beneath California's Oroville Dam north of Sacramento.

"We'll get a lot of eyes on the problem now that we have a problem".

Update 7 a.m.: Lake Oroville, already central to the life of surrounding communities, has now become all-important. Altered rock is more permeable and prone to erosion than massive rock.

California Department of Water Resources Acting Director Bill Croyle said he was "not familiar with 2005 documentation or conversation" about spillway concerns and emphasized the efforts underway to understand the current dynamics of the dam.

"And we know that in the future, we're going to add to those stresses at both ends of the spectrum", he added.

"Most of our almond crops are located on the outskirts of the Sutter Buttes. which is a little bit higher", she said. Stores sat dark and empty with sandbags stacked in front of doors.

About one-third of Butte County's $773 million agriculture industry is within the affected corridor, Mendoza said.

As a county supervisor, Lambert said the region's levees "are in the best shape they've ever been in", noting recent improvements made to the Feather River West Levee.

It all adds up to a fable for whatever political framework critics would like to apply: regulatory negligence (why wasn't erosion potential recognized earlier?), utilities with perverse incentives (did price-sensitive contractors have undue influence over a safety decision?), even California liberalism ("California spent on rail and illegals, but not on damaged dam").

  • Salvatore Jensen