By Emily Anne Espinosa |News Editor|
The spillway of the Oroville dam has caused statewide concerns about water resources, especially within the affected Butte, Yuba, and Sutter counties.
On Feb. 7, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) took notice that there were signs of erosion in the Oroville spillway, and then decided to suspend the flow of the spillway in order to investigate the signs of erosion. At the time, DWR reported no anticipated threat to the dam or the public.
First sign of erosion included a 200-feet wide hole in the dam.
On Feb. 11, the Oroville spillway reached past it’s capacity, causing the dam to spillover into it’s emergency spillway. This is the first time it’s happened in the near 49 years of the dam’s existence.
The spillover rised over the top of the emergency spillway slope, eroding huge sections of the slope as the water rushed downhill.
On Feb. 12, the emergency spillway showed signs of erosion, prompting concerns of a flash flood.
In response, 188,000 people were ordered to evacuate affected areas.
If water spilled over, it would have affected towns near the Feather River and the eastern Sacramento Valley.
During the 48 hours evacuation order, it has been speculated that some individuals were looting the homes of evacuees.
The mandatory evacuation order was suspended on Feb. 14, yet there are still concerns that another evacuation will be in place, especially with California’s continuing rainy season.
Despite the on-going storms and efforts to limit flow, the Oroville reservoir continues to empty.
As of Feb. 17, the lake is falling at 3 to 4 inches an hour.
It has been speculated that the dam, known for being the second largest reservoir in California, the tallest in the U.S., and serves one of the key reservoirs that supply the state of California during dry seasons.