California awards Nebraska company $275 contract to fix dam

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 20, 2017

In February, authorities ordered the evacuation of 188,000 people downstream after surging releases of water tore away big chunks of the spillways. For days, managers assured the public there was no imminent danger as they slowed releases of water to assess the damage.

The groups include the Friends of the River and Sierra Club California. But now suddenly they realized that the dam's emergency backup spillway - essentially an unpaved hillside - was falling apart, too, and could unleash a deadly torrent of water.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) on Monday awarded a contract to Kiewit Infrastructure West Co., for fix work on Oroville Dam's spillways. In a public statement, dam managers say there is "no imminent threat to the public or the dam".

Managers at the nation's tallest dam made a critical mistake by allowing the lake behind it reach its highest level ever.

Honea reacted by ordering the immediate evacuation of almost 200,000 people downstream.

And government overseers overestimated the durability of the two spillways.

Connolly says that backup spillway was never meant to be used for flood control so "they never should have let the lake overflow".

"Construction work has been going on in Oroville for many weeks, but Kiewit has a pre-construction meeting with DWR this morning and work will begin as soon as next week", Mellon says. In an email to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea, the state water agency says hydrology reports show the flow of water, even reduced, will keep the lake from spilling over the emergency spillway.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California water officials say they have awarded a contract to fix Oroville Dam's two damaged spillways to a Nebraska construction company.

One of the consequences of the storm activity was significant erosion damage to the spillway of the Oroville Dam.

Rick Poeppelman, chief of the Army Corps' engineering division for the region, said his agency and the state water managers made the best decisions they could.

Democrats in the U.S. House want the auditing arm of Congress to review dam safety standards following a crisis at the nation's tallest dam.

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