California’s Oroville Dam springs a leak due to rains; water overflowing spillway

California’s Oroville Dam springs a leak due to rains; water overflowing spillway
Too small for all: Shasta Dam. (Image: Pung, Shutterstock)

[Ed. – If the California Democrats won’t voluntarily update the infrastructure, Mother Nature will make them do it.  The image is of the Shasta Dam, which is also unable to hold all the rainfall in a bumper year.  Note: the point is not that dams can be built to always contain all the rainfall.  The point is that California needs this water, for a growing population and what used to be the world’s most productive agricultural sector (until about 6 years ago), and hasn’t upgraded these dams or built new ones in nearly 50 years.]

Water began pouring over the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam early Saturday for the first time in its 48-year history. State officials continued to say they don’t expect the situation to result in flooding in the town of Oroville or other communities downstream.

Unable to release enough water from the dam’s heavily damaged main spillway, officials with the California Department of Water Resources announced that water from the storm-swollen reservoir started flowing over the adjacent emergency spillway at around 8 a.m. Department spokesman Doug Carlson said water was pouring over the emergency structure in what initially was a steady but relatively gentle flow.

At that point, with dry weather in the near-term forecast for the Sierra watershed and inflows to the reservoir slowing, it’s expected that the uncontrolled releases from the emergency spillway will end and the lake level will start dropping, Carlson said. Sometime in the next few days, the department expects the reservoir will recede to 890 feet, or 11 feet below the lip of the emergency spillway.

The battered main spillway, which developed a pothole this week that has ballooned to a cavernous 300-foot gash, continued to release 55,000 cfs of water. That meant a total of 60,000 to 65,000 cfs was pouring out of the dam.

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