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

Setting Rivers Free: As Dams Are Torn Down, Nature is Quickly Recovering

BENTON FALLS, MAINE — “Look underneath you,” commands Nate Gray, a burly biologist for the state of Maine. He reaches down to the grate floor of a steel cage perched on a dam straddling the Sebasticook River, and pulls back a board revealing the roiling river 30 feet below. “All you see is fish.” Below, undulating in … Read more