Early last week it was reported that massive sections of corroded concrete led to the closure of the Oroville, California dam. Unfortunately, millions of gallons of rushing water have continued to pound against the Lake Oroville Dam spillway which has now forced more than 100,000 people from their homes as of this past Sunday.
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Workers are expected to begin repairing the erosion of the emergency spillway, which has threatened the flooding of downstream towns, on Monday, February 13, 2017. Bags of rocks will be used to try and ‘plug’ the gaping hole. Officials have emphasized that the situation remains dangerous and potentially affected residents are urged to evacuate to higher ground.
As the levels of the full-to-the-brim reservoir (the second-largest in California) were being lowered with the use of the auxiliary spillway on Sunday to allow for a full inspection of the structure, a hole suddenly developed. This hole poses a significant risk of allowing torrents of water to rush downhill and into Oroville, a city of 16,000 residents, as well as into counties such as Father River, Yuba, Sutter and Butte.
With a new storm system in the forecast for later this week, officials are scrambling a race against time. Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency order late Sunday aimed at speeding up states aids to correct the situation before it becomes worse. “I’ve been in close contact with emergency personnel managing the situation in Oroville throughout the weekend and it’s clear the circumstances are complex and rapidly changing”, Brown warned.
The severity of the issue was echoed across social media, with the local Sherriff’s department issuing the following statement, “This is not a drill. This is not a drill. Repeat, this is not a drill”.
To slow the erosion on the emergency spillway before more damage is incurred, officials have doubled the flow of water down the main spillway to 100,00 cubic feet per second – a move that will in turn drastically reduce the water that comes over the concerning emergency route.
Officials affirm that the dam itself is structurally sound and is not at risk of failing.