News Worms
News Worms

Large Hole in California Dam Spillway Continues to Grow

Large Hole in California Dam Spillway Continues to Grow

Oroville Dam, the state's second-largest reservoir, suffered damage to its concrete spillway due to erosion.

The California Department of Water Resources says that the reservoir's emergency spillway likely will be used, perhaps, as soon as early Saturday.

A hole, about 250 feet long and 45 feet deep, opened up in the lower part of the main spillway on Tuesday.

Video on the sheriff department's Facebook page showed about 35,000 cubic feet of water per second being released down the enormous slide into the river, but officials said the additional flow would not necessarily cause flooding. CAL FIRE crews have been mobilized for an emergency clearing of approximately 100 acres of trees and brush that could be affected if water flows over the dam crest. That could save them from having to use an emergency spillway for the first time in the reservoir's 48-year history. This occurred when the lake level exceeded 901 feet elevation above sea level.

The state hatchery inundated by the debris from the Oroville spillway produces nearly a third of all hatchery-raised fish in the state, supporting struggling native fish species and a $4 billion salmon-fishing industry. They gradually halted the flow of water to investigate.

State officials, while warning late Friday that the emergency spillway might be used, reiterated their belief that the Feather wouldn't roar out of control as a result.

DWR officials said the flow over the auxiliary spillway will range between 5,000 and 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Doug Carlson, a spokesman for the Department of Water Resources, called it a "last resort". But they also said erosion is an ongoing concern.

State officials said residents of Oroville - located 7 miles east of the dam - were in no imminent danger.

They dumped rocks and poured cement in an attempt to create a course that will keep the emergency flow away from the existing spillway.

Three years ago, at the height of the drought, Lake Oroville looked a whole lot different, and even a year ago, in January 2016, the lake was still 210 feet below capacity.

A gaping hole in the spillway for the tallest dam in the United States grew Thursday and California authorities said they expect it will continue eroding as water washes over it but the Oroville Dam and the public are safe.

Officials do not know yet what caused the hole.

Associated Press writers Kristin J. Bender and Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this story from San Francisco.


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