Lawmakers meet in Oroville to discuss spillway, water costs

Assemblyman James Gallagher speaks with other state legislators in Oroville.

California's 3rd District Assemblyman James Gallagher hosted a bipartisan meeting of state and local legislators today in Oroville, as lawmakers discussed what they have learned in the aftermath of the Oroville Dam spillway crisis and what is needed to address the Northstate's water future, as well.

Nine state assembly members and several local lawmakers attended the meeting in Southside Community Center in Oroville.

While there was general agreement that more needs to be done to prevent another crisis like the spillway failure, there was little agreement on how much Central and Southern Californians should pay to access the water in the future.

One Southern California lawmaker said he dislikes the idea of paying more for something considered a basic resource."

We can restore the water distribution from Northern California so that all the people of California can have enough water and Northern California can have enough water, too," said 68th District Assemblyman Steven Choi of Irvine. "I think this is more of a cooperative understanding and helping each other rather than just being selfish."

Everyone who accesses water from the Lake Oroville reservoir pays for it in their water rates, including customers in Central and Southern California.

With repair costs to the spillway mounting, state officials like Gallagher are looking to non-Northstate water contractors to pay for whatever is not covered by FEMA.

"I would say right now they are paying for that," Gallagher said. "And they will be responsible for the cost of repairs to the Oroville Dam."

State lawmakers in attendance Thursday agreed there must be continued cooperation between officials from the north and the south in order to provide enough water for the entire state.

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