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Discussion > The Oroville Dam

Oroville Dam Crises Updates 03 04 2017 [March 4th] Long Term Dangers Expected - Paul Preston

The money that should have been used for the dam repairs was used 'elsewhere'. It is a State installation, so nothing to do with federal organisations, well, not until there is a disaster.

There is plenty of snow above the dam and it usually melts through until June/July, so the crisis isn't over, and it could easily be a massive crisis, with politicians responsible hiding and restricting vital information.

Mar 4, 2017 at 7:21 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Mar 4, 2017 at 7:21 PM | Robert Christopher

As I understand it .....

The dam is intact, and poses no threat of breach or collapse. The normal spillway had fallen into disrepair, such that when required, it started to disintegrate. Fast flowing water exerts a lot of force on anything in its way, and does find its way into every crack or imperfection. Deterioration becomes very rapid, sometimes instantaneous. The spillway did fail, but not disastrously for the structure of the dam.

The Emergency Spillway was still capable of working, but trees had been allowed to grow down its route. These would not have significantly impeded flow, but once uprooted, would have caused further destruction downstream. These trees were felled and cleared, as emergency damage limitation works. Meanwhile, the normal spillway had holes filled with concrete, possibly with some reinforcement as a rush repair, hopefully adequate for the next 3-4 months.

It seems that once the scale of the potential problem was realised, a plan was worked out, instructed and carried out very effectively. The engineers and contractors involved, should be praised.

That the emergency spillway had sizeable trees growing in its route, indicates that maintenence was cut 10+? years ago. Who authorised it? Was an emergency "what if" plan drawn up then?

How long ago were cracks/defects noticed in the normal spillway? Were they recommended for repair, if so, who decided not to proceed? If dam structures have to be inspected monthly? yearly? how many times was the cracking reported on, but ignored?

It is tempting to conclude that maintenance was cut, because decision makers believed the dam was never going to overflow, if so there ought to be an electronic paper trail, leading back to a single desk or committee room.

Something more serious could still go wrong between now and summer, but the dam and spillways seem to have been restored to functional condition, for the immediate future.

The sound of Global Warming Alarmists going very quiet is enjoyable, but some may start to squeal, if questioned after a legal caution. In this instance, I am not sure a criminal offence has been committed, but local residents have little reason to retain confidence in their taxpayer-funded decision makers.

Mar 4, 2017 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mar 4, 2017 at 11:39 PM by golf charlie
"Something more serious could still go wrong between now and summer, but the dam and spillways seem to have been restored to functional condition, for the immediate future."

Read my last paragraph again: that is why the crisis isn't over. If more rain is not forthcoming, the snow on the mountains will take longer to melt, snow liquefaction, and a catastrophe may be avoided. The peak runoff is often/usually around June/July, so there is a window of opportunity to avert a disaster! It is no time to be complacent, which is what "hopefully adequate for the next 3-4 months" sounds!

Have you listened to the clip in my first post? There are still may issues to resolve and the problem isn't that the dam is about to burst now, it is the lack of any leadership, anyone with technical experience, working on the current problems so they can be avoided or lessened.

And the MSM is conveying that everything is fine and the public are not being told what is happening: there is liquefaction around the earthen dam, there was no electrical power to the spillway gate values (to regulate the flow) so they have brought in generators, and there is a lot of water still stored in nine dams, which are being used as holding dams, on the three fingers of the Feather River.

There is a lot more detail, the video clip is long, and the guy speaking sounds informed and angry at the lack of political competence, leadership and honesty. Jerry Brown, Governor of California since 2011, doesn't get a very good press :) In fact, he is described as a worthless non-leader, a coward, he needs to resign!

Money that should have been used to repair the dam has been used for political projects that 'only a Democrat would support'.

Mar 5, 2017 at 3:17 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Mar 5, 2017 at 3:17 PM | Robert Christopher

Engineers are now back in control of the safety of the dam, NOT politicians and accountants, led by Climate Science Advocates.

The advice of Engineers has been ignored for at least (?) 10 years, given the state of the emergency spillway.

I hope a disaster has been averted, now that Dam Engineers have been allowed to deal with the problems caused by ignoring them.

There is a message here for Trump, about draining the Swamp. The emergency spillway needs to be clear of all overgrown and obstructive Greenery. Hopefully the point has been made, without resorting to the tactics of Global Warming Alarmists and spreading further panic.

The Politicians, Accountants and Climate Science advocates should now start to panic amongst themselves only, across the USA, if they have a track record of ignoring people who DO KNOW what they are talking about, based on real facts and evidence.

Mar 5, 2017 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mar 5, 2017 at 3:59 PM by golf charlie
"I hope a disaster has been averted, now that Dam Engineers have been allowed to deal with the problems caused by ignoring them."

The guy in the clip wants more certainty than that! He was complaining that the public wasn't getting the full picture and he could see issues that were not being mentioned. They might be being addressed, but given just how poor the Democratic Party has dealt with water resources in California, including directing money elsewhere, he has every reason to be worried.

It looks like the problem is still a Californian issue and will only be a federal issue if the situation becomes an emergency.

Mar 5, 2017 at 4:35 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Mar 5, 2017 at 4:35 PM | Robert Christopher

The guy in the clip starts with a political rant about the Democrat Governor, and then goes on about the things that could go wrong, and how big a disaster this could turn out to be.

This is potentially a major disaster caused by political interference. The initial problems have been fixed -temporarily- by engineers. If there is proof that political interference has caused any of this, responsible engineers will be able to prove that their warnings had been ignored, over the last 10(?) years.

Irresponsible Climate Scientists and gullible politicians may have caused the current situation to develop, and if so, I would hope they are asked to "pay", by whatever legal means.

California is one of the wealthiest, but most bankrupt administrations in the world. It has consistently blamed Global Warming for its plight, to cover up poor management of all its resources. I sincerely hope the State's administrators are exposed before Californians, but now is not the right time to be making political capital.

Fix the engineering problems now, then ask questions, and then ask Law Enforcement and/or the Electorate who to shoot! Global Warmists have profited from scaremongering, and I am wary of those trying to make political points based on scaremongering.

Mar 6, 2017 at 12:27 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The dam if I recall was designed and built under supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers. Gov. Brown folded up his secession tent and flipped into shaking the tin cup for federal assistance nearly immediately.

Mar 6, 2017 at 3:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Here is a well produced report of the current situation:
SanFranciscoChronicle: What happened at Lake Oroville

Mar 9, 2017 at 4:37 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

RC - many thanks for pointing to the useful summary article.

It is vague about what lies ahead.

I gather that there have been heavy snowfalls in the mountains and a rapid thaw could result in another crisis but I have no idea whether that is just a remote possibility or something that will prove to be a real test of the bodging repairs that are currently under way. If you come across any analysis that predicts what lies ahead in the coming months, it would be very interesting to have a link to it.

Mar 9, 2017 at 5:24 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Robert Christopher, yes a report carefully written to avoid pointing fingers of blame, whist the current crisis continues! No mention of dam/spillway or associated structures condition from 2016 or before.

The size of the multi-million dollar final bill to restore the dam to a serviceable facility, remains open to speculation. Engineers who actually know what they are talking about should be allowed to get on with what they know best.

To prevent loss of life, including their own, politicians should stay well clear.

Has the record of annual/monthly engineers reports over the last 15(?) years been made available for inspection? Fingers can then be pointed with greater accuracy. If they have not been made available for public scrutiny, someone must have ordered increased levels of secrecy.

Mar 9, 2017 at 5:53 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Wasn’t it Gov. Jerry Brown (probably Snr.) who, when first gaining office in the… when? 1970s?... drastically cut taxes, saying that the best way to stop bureaucrats spending money is to not give it to them in the first place. I liked that kind of thinking – I wonder where he went wrong? By the sound of this Lake Oroville situation, it would appear that he preferred to listen to the bureaucrats and not the engineers. Bad choice.

Mar 9, 2017 at 6:20 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Mar 9, 2017 at 5:24 PM by Martin A
I think much depends on how much it rains between now and August. If it rains a lot, at the wrong time, the crisis could well return. My earlier clip (with the angry guy) has plenty of detail so, even if we don't know what is being done, we know some of the issues that need to be addressed.

Mar 9, 2017 at 5:53 PM by golf charlie
"a report carefully written to avoid pointing fingers of blame" but full of gaps :) My take is that the official information hasn't been as forthcoming as it should been, so it is hard to judge, but there needs to be a lot of repair work done and I don't know whether the state funds are available. I think the original funds went on 'social projects'. Remember there are plenty sanctuary towns in California. That concrete channel looks in a bad state, and access for concrete lorries looks difficult.

With Hurricane Katrina, the MSM blamed the president (Bush (Rep)) for not acting, but he was waiting for the State Governor (Dem) to request help, which took some time. However, that is what the US Constitution requires: the USA is a collection of states. The President may be the Commander in Chief outside the USA, but within it, he is only a presidor :)

It could well be a similar politically tricky situation at Oroville Dam. Will the state governor (very Dem) make the request early enough to President Trump (Rep, sort of)?

Mar 9, 2017 at 6:37 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Radical Rodent, Californians do seem to need a Statewide Brown-Out to restore some sanity. Of course he could try to blame the mess on one of his predecessors, it just depends how long ago actors believed they were politicians and whether they also believed they were engineers.

Obviously everyone knows Climate Scientists believe they can multi-task, but none of their beliefs has ever turned out correct.

Mar 9, 2017 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mr Christopher: this could, of course, be part of a ploy (heavy-handed, as usual, but what do they know?), to “create” this catastrophe, and call for the Prez to gallop to the rescue a little too late to be of any use, but just enough to further discredit him. Mr Trump is probably a few moves ahead in this game, and may well have – or, at least already has it on the cards, so to speak – already made some approach offering assistance, to have it flung back – and to have such on record! (Not with CNN or the BBC, of course.)

BTW, these concrete lorries sound really innovative! Is the engine concrete, too?

Mar 9, 2017 at 8:49 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Mar 9, 2017 at 8:49 PM by Radical Rodent
"... these concrete lorries sound really innovative ..."
Not innovative as the concrete helicopters that they have been using!

"Mr Trump is probably a few moves ahead in this game ..."
I believe he has handed the trans-bathroom issue back to the individual states, which is one of the reasons he was elected: returning authority to each state, which is what the Constitution demands. Obama was ignoring the fact that the USA is a collection of states, even though he has visited 57 of them:
Obama Claims He's Visited 57 States

Mar 9, 2017 at 10:49 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Mar 9, 2017 at 8:49 PM by Radical Rodent
"Mr Trump is probably a few moves ahead in this game ..."

You must have some good contacts:
TheGuardian: Donald Trump has secretly hired hundreds of allies within US government to act as 'eyes and ears'

Mar 9, 2017 at 11:09 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Radical Rodent & Robert Christopher,

they could have used concrete boats:

Mar 10, 2017 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The spillway has been dry since Feb. 27, when engineers with the Department of Water Resources rapidly reduced the flow of water down the concrete chute from 50,000 cubic feet per second to zero so they could repair the spillway and restart a nearby hydroelectric plant.
But since that shutdown, the water level in the reservoir has climbed 21 feet, even though the power station began operating last week. The reservoir’s water level was at 859 feet Thursday afternoon, 41 feet below capacity and only 6 feet shy of the threshold at which engineers have said they’ll want to use the spillway again.

But using the spillway in its current state carries risks, officials said.
LosAngelesTimes: Damaged Oroville Dam spillway may need to be used by next week, state officials say

A week and a half, and it's 21 feet higher. That is some going, especially as there is only 6 feet to go.

Mar 10, 2017 at 3:47 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Mr Christopher: not only did Obama claim to have visited 57 states, but had yet to visit one more! As for my having contacts… well, there are benefits with being a Rodent!

Oroville does show the problems that exist with “Mann-made climate change” in that, no matter what change humans try to instigate into the Californian climate, it will insist in performing more or less as it has done since time immemorial: long periods of drought, followed by extensive rain, often heavy. As the Australians have found, this does tend to screw up any plans that are executed to “mitigate” the effects of climate change.

Mar 10, 2017 at 8:11 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Mar 10, 2017 at 3:47 PM | Robert Christopher

A natural waterfall will cause weird turbulence below the surface, and undercut the rock over which the water is falling. The erosion of a waterfall does occur along its front face, but most of the backward progression over centuries results from collapse of the front face from near the bottom, working up. It undermines itself.

Dam overflows and spillways are designed like ski jumps, to shoot the high speed water as far as possible from natural or manmade rock/concrete, to prevent this. Clearly this is more of a risk for earthern dams.

The concrete spillway failed. The water DID cause major erosion to the rock and soil, but the actual failure was, luckily, some distance from the dam. There may be undisclosed and/or undiscovered erosion back towards the dam. If you want there to be a catastrophic disaster, it is possible it may still occur, but unlikely, nothing is certain.

If you are seeking a political disaster (not unreasonable) it is in what was NOT contained in the previous technical report, rather than what was in it.

The cameras are all focusing on the dam, but missing the "action" in the State of California offices.

Mar 10, 2017 at 10:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mar 10, 2017 at 10:07 PM by golf charlie
"The cameras are all focusing on the dam, but missing the "action" in the State of California offices."

Let's hope there is some :)

By the time we know whether or not there is any, it will probably be too late to do anything about it.

Mar 10, 2017 at 10:40 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

The Feather River below the dam has been cleared of debris, including broken-off concrete, washed down from the spillway so that water can now flow through the dam's turbines. This will allow more water to be released from the dam and (I think) power to be generated. New power lines have had to have been installed as well, to replace those damaged, as turbines not connected to the grid would have spun out of control.

There are reports that the weather has been slightly on the cool side, but warm weather is forecast and there is a lot of snow still on the mountains.

I have also seen/heard reports that land is sinking where there has been water extraction (unrelated to the dam crisis) and that there is a danger that the geology could be damaged enough to allow sea water in. This would cause problems for those using the water resource for domestic and agricultural use.

It may be another case of Climate Change Science drowning out proper Scientific investigations and Engineering solutions. We shall see, perhaps.

Mar 12, 2017 at 12:19 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

The headline isn't really the point, it probably would have only delayed the crisis, but the article gives some background on the political front and there is a good view of the devastation, the ruined hillside and clogged river, just below the dam:
Is there too much water behind Oroville Dam? Critics say Army Corps standards unsafe

It's any excuse not to spend money, as California is already deep in debt, and they think some of Trump's infrastructure billions may come their way. I doubt Trump will make it as easy as that, especially as much of the rest of the country know just how 'liberal/impractical/anti USA/pro migrant Californian Democrats are:
LosAngelesTimes: Will California spend more on water projects? 'It all depends on how thirsty the governor is,' De León says

Mar 13, 2017 at 2:20 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

This is about another Californian dam, but this is what is interesting:
Despite 70 percent growth in the population of California, there has been no new above ground water storage built in the last 40 years. California voters passed the Proposition 1 Water Bond, officially known as the “Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014,” ostensibly to create more infrastructure to move more water.

Although the initiative had bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans, Breitbart News found at the time that a “close look at the language in the proposition reveals that the initiative is another legislative ‘bait and switch’ that will not complete a single major water storage or delivery system."

Breitbart: San Luis Reservoir 100% Full; No Prop 1 Money to Raise Dam

Mar 14, 2017 at 11:37 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher