Been glued to the updates and saying prayers for the people below the Oroville Dam, where four counties are under mandatory evacuation orders as I type.
I remember the arguing over the need to reinforce the emergency spillway about a dozen years ago but the W. Bush administration refused, pronouncing it fine. With the Federal denial, there were too many owners involved to get them all to agree to pay for it on their own. The argument was made that water was too cheap and that there were real costs involved and that they needed to be paid sooner–or later.
Oroville Lake is where the water for the California Aqueduct flows from northern to southern California. It has the tallest dam in the country.
The main spillway broke wide open Tuesday and sent concrete barreling down the hillside.
Today, for the first time ever, the water went over the emergency spillway, which was simply an unreinforced hillside–at less than 5% of what it was certified to be able to handle, but instead with waterfalls churning down it it threatened to collapse from erosion from the bottom on up.
And starting Wednesday night that area will get 2-3″ more of rain.
The Sierra Club was right in suing to try to get that hill reinforced all those years ago.
This, this is the wall that needed to have been built.
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