Oroville Spillway Collapse Threatened; Evacuation of Area Ordered
Dam safe so far; over 100,000 people are being evacuated tonight even as danger lessens
February 14, 2017
Update: The evacuation order was lifted on February 14, 2017 at 2 pm PST, for communities below Oroville dam.
The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has ordered the immediate evacuation of the lower levels of Oroville, CA and the areas downstream.
Lake Oroville went from 8-% full to over 100% full in just one week. The danger is not to the earthen dam itself, but to the emergency spillway which has been operated in full activation mode, for the first time in 48 years.
The excitedly urgent e mail issued at 4:10 pm PST Sunday, reads:
This is an evacuation order. Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered.
A hazardous situation is developing with the Oroville Dam auxiliary spillway. Operation of the auxiliary spillway has lead to severe erosion that could lead to a failure of the structure. Failure of the auxiliary spillway structure will result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.
In response to this developing situation, DWR is increasing water releases to 100,000 cubic feet per second.
Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream is ordered. This in NOT A Drill. This in NOT A Drill. This in NOT A Drill.
Error in the original. Live video is available on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF3j82YEsTo
An evacuation center has been set up at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico. The Elks Lodge in Paradise is also opening their RV Park for free to evacuees. Space is limited in the RV Park.
Highway 99, leaving Oroville, has been shut down to all southbound traffic and all four lanes will be open to northbound traffic.
Oroville Hospital said they are not taking non-emergency patients out of the hospital at this time but they are moving emergency patients. They are encouraging non-emergency patients to shelter in place.
A hazardous situation has developed with the Oroville Dam emergency spillway. Officials say that operation of the auxiliary spillway has lead to severe erosion that could lead to a failure of the structure. Failure of the emergency spillway structure will result in an uncontrolled release of flood waters from Lake Oroville.
In response to this developing situation, DWR is increasing water releases to 100,000 cubic feet per second. Immediate evacuation from the low levels of Oroville and areas downstream has been ordered.
Officials anticipated a failure of the auxiliary spillway at Oroville Dam within 60 minutes of the original notice, which was issued at 4:11 p.m. Sunday. Residents of Oroville should evacuate in a northward direction such as towards Chico.
President Donald Trump tweeted "The unfolding incident at the #OrovilleDam reminds us that we must not only build new infrastructure -- but must also maintain what we have!"
Oroville (formerly Ophir City) is the county seat of Butte County, California. The population was 15,506 (2010 census), up from 13,004 (2000 census). Oroville is located off of Highway 70, and is in close proximity to Highway 99, which connects Butte County with Interstate 5. Chico, California is located about 25 minutes north of the city, and Sacramento lies about an hour south. Oroville is considered the gateway to Lake Oroville and Feather River recreational areas.
The Oroville Dam, perhaps Oroville's most famous site, is one of the 20 largest dams in the world, the largest earth filled dam in the US, as well as the tallest dam in the US. This dam is 770 feet tall and 6920 feet long, and it impounds Lake Oroville, which has a capacity of 3,500,000 acre feet of water, making it the second largest reservoir in California. This is one of the most important parts of the California State Water Project (see also the Central Valley Project, a Federal undertaking). Both systems move water from water-rich Northern California to water-poor Southern California.
This facility is operated by the California Department of Water Resources which is undergoing contract renewal with the City of Oroville and Butte County. The state has not paid any taxes on this facility nor developed the lake for recreation as originally promised which have been a bone of contention with the local government and residents.