Damaged Oroville Dam spillway may need to be used soon

Oroville Dam spillway damage. Mercury News

Water levels are rising so fast at Oroville Dam in California due to storm runoff and snow melt that the spillway, which was badly damaged by recent rains may need to be used again. Water levels are now just 5 feet from when the spillway will need to be used. If they release water slowly it could undermine the already compromised spillway, so water will be released in spurts at high volume.

This sounds ominous.

On Thursday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea revealed a new warning and evacuation plan for the county’s residents, many of whom were forced to flee to high ground with only an hour’s notice last month when state officials feared a portion of the reservoir’s emergency spillway was nearing failure.

“Our goal is to give people 12 to 24 hours’ notice” and reduce choke points for fleeing residents, Honea said.

Meanwhile, enormous amounts of debris, 715,000 cubic yards, have been removed below the spillway at a cost of over $4 million a day.

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