BLOG ROUND-UP, the dam special edition: Why Trump should not fund an Oroville Dam fix; Mother Nature, Oroville Dam, and lessons for California; What the Oroville Dam crisis tells us about natural infrastructure; and more …


A harrowing week in the Sacramento Valley:  The Northern California Water Association blog writes, “The events surrounding Oroville Dam this week have been a powerful reminder that the Sacramento Valley is a major floodplain and the water system is foremost a flood protection system, with public safety the first order of business. With nearly 200,000 people on the east side of the Sacramento Valley evacuated from their homes and many businesses and communities closed, this has been a very harrowing week for people in the Sacramento Valley.  In looking at this past week, there have been many encouraging efforts that have been helpful to get through this week in the Sacramento Valley. For example … ”  Click here to continue reading at the NCWA blog here:  A harrowing week in the Sacramento Valley

Oroville Dam: Managing through a historic challenge:  Jeffrey Kightlinger writes, “Just over a week ago, a series of events began to unfold rapidly at Oroville Dam.  On Feb. 7, dam operators at the California Department of Water Resources began to increase releases from Lake Oroville, the state’s second largest reservoir and primary storage for the State Water Project, to prepare for an incoming storm.  They noticed debris coming down the concrete-lined main spillway and, after stopping the water, found that the concrete floor of the spillway had begun to erode. Releases were slowly resumed and a delicate balancing act began between releasing water and protecting the structure from longer-term damage. … ”  Read more from the H2Outlook blog here:  Oroville Dam: Managing through a historic challenge

Why Trump should not fund an Oroville Dam fix:  Wayne Lusvardi writes, “As of the writing of this article, California has had to evacuate some some 180,000 people in the Dam Inundation Pathway of Oroville Dam in Northern California due to at one point in time the reported threat of an “imminent” dam failure.  Under a worse case scenario, however remote, there is the possible specter of their being displaced until summer. The spillways to the dam still are at risk of failure over the next few days and months, as new rainstorms are forecast for Northern California.  California Governor Jerry Brown has requested President Donald Trump declare California a major disaster area in the hope of defraying $162 million in projected disaster related expenses. Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a number of programs for disaster relief of households and government entities, federal funding for a fix of the eroded and damaged portions of spillways on the dam should not be considered. … ”  Read more from Master Resource blog here:  Why Trump should not fund an Oroville Dam fix

Mother Nature, Oroville Dam, and lessons for California:  Kate Poole writes, “Ever since Hurricane Katrina breached the levees of New Orleans and flooded much of the city, experts have warned about a similar levee collapse in the San Francisco Bay–Delta. The area has 1,100 miles of these protective embankments, and many have claimed that the question is not whether they will fail, but when.   The same could be said about many aspects of California’s heavily engineered water system. The state, and particularly the thousands of people living below Oroville Dam, are experiencing that reality right now. People are very grateful for the extensive efforts by state and local agencies to protect life and property downstream and to begin spillway repairs. But while the immediate threat prompting a mandatory evacuation below Oroville Dam has passed for the moment, it will be months before permanent repairs can be made to the dam’s broken spillway and the flaws in the emergency spillway can receive the serious attention they deserve. … ”  Read more from the NRDC here:  Mother Nature, Oroville Dam, and lessons for California

California Farm Water Coalition comments on Oroville Dam operations:  ““This winter’s record-breaking storms have tested our state and its infrastructure in ways no one could have predicted.  The past week has been particularly frightening for people in and around the City of Oroville. We’d first like to say how glad we are that hundreds of thousands of people were able to safely evacuate and that the emergency spillway helped provide the necessary time to do so. There has been a lot of finger-pointing and talk about whether the structure should have been made even stronger.  Unfortunately, facts sometimes get lost in a crisis. As was pointed out by Jeffrey Mount of the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California, the Oroville structures had successfully handled the big flood of 1997.  … ”  Read more from the California Farm Water Coalition here:  California Farm Water Coalition comments on Oroville Dam operations

With old warnings unheeded, Oroville dam problems threaten the valley:  “A Sacramento Bee story published Monday succinctly described the disaster unfolding at the nation’s tallest dam, where flaws in the Oroville Dam’s concrete spillway are forcing water onto the earthen emergency spillway. Threats of a spillway collapse led to mandatory evacuations throughout Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties Sunday.  “Oroville Dam contains a flaw, some critics assert, one that could damage the structure during a major flood and threaten downstream communities,” according to the Bee. “That flaw is the dam’s emergency spillway, which empties onto a bare dirt hillside adjacent to the earthen-fill dam.” The torrent of water could erode the unprotected hillside, undermine the emergency spillway’s foundation and lead to a catastrophic failure. … ”  Read more from the CalWatchdog blog here:  With old warnings unheeded, Oroville dam problems threaten the valley

180,000 People out of their Homes: Oroville Spillway Was Someone Else’s Problem: Chris Schutes writes, “In 2005, Ron Stork of Friends of the River warned in a Motion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that the “ungated, unarmored spillway” at Oroville Dam needed to be made into a real spillway with real concrete.  The term “spillway” is generous.  It’s a concrete wall with the top of a huge reservoir on one side and a hillside covered with dirt on the other.  Mr. Stork and his colleagues in the Sierra Club and the South Yuba River Citizens League wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ... ”  Read more the CSPA blog here:  180,000 People out of their Homes: Oroville Spillway Was Someone Else’s Problem

Learning from Oroville Dam disaster: State Water Board proposes climate change resolution:  Juliet Christian-Smith writes, “Earlier this week, while areas downstream of Oroville Dam were still under an evacuation order, California’s State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) released a draft resolution for a comprehensive response to climate change. It resolves that the agency will embed climate science into all of its existing work, both to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, and to build resilience to the impacts of climate change. In doing so, the State Water Board demonstrates how public agencies can respond more proactively to the very real challenges that global warming is bringing our way. ... ”  Read more from The Equation blog here:  Learning from Oroville Dam disaster: State Water Board proposes climate change resolution

What the Oroville Dam crisis tells us about natural infrastructure:  Maurice Hall writes, “The crisis at Oroville Dam in Northern California has abated, but problems could return with more rain in the forecast for later this week.  If you haven’t heard, the reservoir behind the dam reached capacity last weekend, sending water over an emergency spillway for the first time since its construction in 1968. Authorities ordered more than 180,000 people downstream to evacuate their homes over concerns that the spillway could fail, sending an enormous uncontrolled rush of water down the Feather and Sacramento Rivers. … ”  Read more from the Growing Returns here:  What the Oroville Dam crisis tells us about natural infrastructure

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About the Blog Round-up: The Blog Round-up is a weekly journey through the wild and varied tapestry of blog commentary, incorporating the good, the bad, the ugly, and sometimes just plain bizarre viewpoints existing on the internet. Viewpoints expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily my own; inclusion of items here does not imply my endorsement of their positions. Items are chosen to express a wide range of viewpoints, and are added at the editor’s discretion. While posts with obvious factual errors are excluded, please note that no attempt is made on my part to verify or fact check the information bloggers present, so caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

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