DWR details next phase of Oroville Dam Spillway repairs


OROVILLE, Calif. - There was nearly dead silence at the Oroville Dam Spillway, Sunday, for one of the first times since the erosion formed at the beginning of the year.

But the Department of Water Resources said that doesn't mean it's finished yet. The November 1 deadline to complete Phase 1 of repairs to the primary spillway was merely a milestone.

Now, crews have shifted their priority to the emergency spillway. This focus is on the completion of the underground secant pile wall, which would stop any potential erosion from forming in the future.

DWR began controlled blasting on November 7 in the area between the secant pile wall and the spillway. Blasting will prepare crews for rock excavation, then crews will clean the foundation and place roller-compacted concrete to stabilize the emergency spillway in 2018.

As planned, the blasting will continue every other day until the end of December.

"I can hear it, yes," said Sonja Carrie. She's lived at her home off of Long Bar Road for 22 years. It's only a few miles from the spillway. Carrie said the 24-hour construction hasn't bothered her, but she still really hopes these repairs won't be needed again.

"Let's hope it's gonna be done right, so it doesn't happen again," Carrie said. "Like I still feel bad for all the people that had to be evacuated."

Like many others in Oroville, she's hopeful but remains unsure of the future of the dam. "You hear so many rumors that it should've been caught a long time ago and that it's also going to be fixed the same way that it was before, so that is not very reassuring."

The DWR said those are just, in fact, rumors and that this spillway will be constructed to the 2017 standards, which is vastly different than a blueprint from the 1960s.

"Well, I hope they did a good job," Carrie said.

DWR is hosting two public meetings in December to update locals in the area about the ongoing Lake Oroville Spillways Emergency Recovery Project. The meetings will provide an opportunity for DWR to update community members on the operations plan for Lake Oroville during the 2017-18 rainy season, as well as the construction plans for 2018.

In Oroville, the meeting is Wednesday, December 6 at 6 p.m. at the Oroville Municipal Auditorium. The address is 1200 Myers Street. In Yuba City, the meeting is Thursday, December 7 at 6 p.m. at the Franklin Hall, Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds. The address is 442 Franklin Ave.

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