Oroville Dam Documents Kept Secret by State, Federal Officials

Citing potential security risks, state and federal officials are blocking the public’s ability to review documents that could shed light on repair plans and safety issues at crippled Oroville Dam. One of the secret reports is a memo from an independent panel of experts brought in to guide state officials’ repair plans. Another confidential document … Read more

Does California Really Need More Dams? We’re Running out of Places to Put Them

You hear this every time there’s a drought or deluge in California: “Why haven’t they built more dams?” Truth is, they’ve built a bunch. And they’re about done with it. Tally them up. There are more than 1,400 dams in the state. At least 1,000 are major and 55 can hold 100,000 acre-feet or more … Read more

Gov. Brown Takes Action to Bolster Dam Safety, Repair Infrastructure after Winter Storms

With extreme weather putting increasing stress on California’s roads, bridges and flood control system, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced a series of immediate and longer-term actions to bolster dam safety, improve flood protection and fix the state’s aging transportation and water infrastructure. “Recent storms have pounded the state of California resulting in a … Read more

America’s Aging Dams Are in Need of Repair

After two weeks that saw evacuations near Oroville, Calif., and flooding in Elko County, Nev., America’s dams are showing their age. Nearly 2,000 state-regulated high-hazard dams in the United States were listed as being in need of repair in 2015, according to the Association of State Dam Safety Officials. A dam is considered “high hazard” … Read more

Dams Remain in Line for Bulk of Funding Over Cheaper Alternatives

WASHINGTON — Despite the spectacular near failure of Oroville Dam, a linchpin of California’s vast plumbing system, Congress and the state remain focused on building new dams and repairing existing ones. But they are giving short shrift to cheaper, more environmentally benign alternatives for water storage. With more rain this week, the state’s water system … Read more

Disturbing Deficiencies Seen in California’s Dam Safety Efforts

The dam burst on a warm afternoon, unleashing nearly 300 million gallons of muddy water on a Los Angeles neighborhood. Five people died and dozens of homes were swept off their foundations and destroyed. In the aftermath of the 1963 Baldwin Hills Dam catastrophe, the state strengthened inspection regulations, helping establish California as a modern … Read more

In Peril at Oroville Dam, a Parable on Infrastructure

California officials have ordered the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people downstream from the Oroville Dam because overflowing waters could erode the dam’s two spillways and cause devastating flooding. Yet when public interest groups warned of such a threat in 2005, state and federal officials rejected their call to line one spillway with concrete, saying it … Read more

Nearly 200,000 Ordered Evacuated as Oroville Dam Danger Spikes

OROVILLE, Butte County — Nearly 200,000 people downriver from Lake Oroville were ordered to evacuate Sunday night after an emergency spillway next to the reservoir’s dam appeared in danger of collapse. While the integrity of Oroville Dam is not at risk, officials said a catastrophic amount of water was in danger of bursting through the … Read more

After Frantic Night, Officials say Lake Oroville May Not Top Emergency Spillway

With a break in the weather and increased outflow from Oroville Dam’s heavily damaged spillway, state officials said Friday morning they no longer believe the swollen reservoir will breach the dam’s emergency spillway. After a grim assessment late Thursday, officials announced Friday morning they think they can avoid using the dam’s emergency spillway, which they’ve … Read more