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Lake Oroville, CA, dam emergency

By justme following x   2017 Feb 13, 8:41am 10,041 views   61 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    

The above reference photo gives the proper perspective. Note auxilliary/secondary spillway, far left, and the regular/primary spillway, the long concrete "waterslide" right next to it. The big earthen dam is not affected at all.

As usual, the reporting in the mass media is not very good, but from what I've been able to piece together:

At some point on Tuesday (today is Sunday), the main spillway had a significant hole/crater developing in the concrete pathway, and somebody made the decision to close that spillway to evaluate and/or repair. In the meantime, water in the lake rose quickly enough that the secondary (passive) spillway overflowed. This caused erosion below the auxillliary spillway, and raised concerns that the emergency spillway wall could fail . The main spillway was then activated again (10pm Sunday night it was operating at 100k cfps), and this has lowered the lake level enough that the auxilliary spillway is no longer overflowing. At the same time, 40k cfps was still arriving into the lake, but a drawdown of 50ft has been estimated to be needed to accommodate incoming storms and snowmelt next week.

The big question, I think, is going to be whether the initial closure of the main spillway was the right decision. Right now it looks like it was not the right decision, given that it has been reversed, but one might argue that the spillway needed to be inspected before re-opening. The duration of the closure time for inspection has not been revealed. There was some talk that the reasoning behind the decision was to ensure the safety of some power line towers that serve the dam's power station.

This is a new thread, trying to provide REAL information and links to good information. The earlier thread by other poster https://patrick.net/users/No%20news%20is%20good%20news was a propaganda thread with fake news. No doubt this thread will also be infected, but at least it starts with facts. I moved my posts from yesterday's thread to this new thread.

#oroville #emergency #OrovilleDam #LakeOroville #news #currentevents

Recommended ignores on this thread: Ironman

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22   anonymous   ignore (null)   2017 Feb 13, 10:08am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

I'd love to see that math. Care to show your work?

23   BlueSardine   ignore (2)   2017 Feb 13, 10:26am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Dam spillways fail due to funds diverted from infrastruture maintenance to illegal immigrant refugee government support.

24   BlueSardine   ignore (2)   2017 Feb 13, 10:27am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Your fuckin country is turning into a 3rd world shithole whiLe illegals and refugees sick up maintenance funding.

25   BlueSardine   ignore (2)   2017 Feb 13, 10:28am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

You can't help others until you help yourself

26   mell   ignore (2)   2017 Feb 13, 10:31am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

justme says

I feel compelled to say that Governor Brown has been campaigning tirelessly to improve California's water storage for years. Proposition 1 (2014), a 7.12B bond measure that passed in 2014, may be relevant. Whether those plans included projects that would have off-loaded Lake Oroville I do not know at this time.


Yeah you're right he has been also campaigning for a rainy day fund etc., yet suddenly there was a 'math' error and a billion dollar shortfall. I support Brown in enhancing the infrastructure around weather and water but like mentioned before they could take the carbon bs and government support for illegals, tax breaks for tesla etc. and instead immediately act on the infrastructure with that money. The amount of taxes by working people being paid is staggering, yet the infrastructure is 3rd-world like.

27   zzyzzx   ignore (1)   2017 Feb 13, 10:44am   ↑ like (4)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

No man made structure is capable of holding that many liberal tears.

29   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 10:55am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Dale Kasler of SacBee has for the most part informative tweets about the situation at Lake Oroville.


For example, the issue of getting the power plant restarted so that we can get both more clean and FREE power, and more water released is highlighted.

QUOTE: Crews removing debris from #OrovilleDam bottom. Trying to clear channel so power plant can restart and release more water.

30   just_dregalicious   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 10:59am   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Alright, I'll post here instead then:

Justme is full of crap, this is not fake news. I practically grew up on that lake. (spent over 20 summers there) We sold our house boat just last year. Here's the deal from the lips of my buddy who is a civil engineer up that way: They aren't telling the public what they are really worried about. Or were last night anyway:

If that auxiliary spillway failed yes, it's off to the side and would cause a large wall of water to flow downstream but that's not the main problem. The main problem is this is an earth fill dam which isn't designed to be drained quickly. If you get a relatively sudden drop of the lake ~20ft what you end up with is a top heavy muddy hill side which will likely collapse TOWARD the lake and if that happens it's very likely the lake starts to flow out over the dam and the whole ~700ft goes.

That's why the evacuation included such a large region last night. They aren't saying that because they don't want to freak people out too much.

31   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 11:10am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

just_passing_through says

The main problem is this is an earth fill dam which isn't designed to be drained quickly.

There may indeed be something to what you are saying here. More and confirmed information on this topic is welcome. Links to expert statements? There is indeed a difference between a sudden 20-30ft drop in the lake, as compared to a multi-day (say) 20-30ft drop in the lake, which is what DWR is trying to engineer before the next storm hits on weds or thu.

I do not see how that makes me "full of crap", though. I'm reporting and analyzing what I can find. Your post may also be helpful, but we could need more sourced information.

32   just_dregalicious   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 11:18am   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

You won't find that printed anywhere. Comes from the mouth of one of the engineers I know up there. FOC: because you're calling a potentially dire situation fake news. I suppose it was - they didn't state how critical it actually was as opposed to your claim its benign.

I think we're out of the woods though. So long as that main spillway can drain enough water without falling apart and toppling the powerlines to the power generator flow control at the bottom of the dam.

33   indigenous   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 11:21am   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Three environmental groups — the Friends of the River, the Sierra Club and the South Yuba Citizens League — filed a motion with the federal government on Oct. 17, 2005, as part of Oroville Dam’s relicensing process, urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

The groups filed the motion with FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They said that the dam, built and owned by the state of California, and finished in 1968, did not meet modern safety standards because in the event of extreme rain and flooding, fast-rising water would overwhelm the main concrete spillway, then flow down the emergency spillway, and that could cause heavy erosion that would create flooding for communities downstream, but also could cause a failure, known as “loss of crest control.”


34   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 11:22am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Again found via the Dale Kasler twiiter feed, SacBee is now starting to present the big picture


Q: What’s the risk?

A: Officials say the earthen face of the dam, which is separated by a hillside from both the main and the emergency spillways, has not been compromised. But experts interviewed say that if the emergency spillway collapses, it wouldn’t be much different than a total dam failure. The hillside could quickly erode and empty the lake.

The massive release of water could blow out levees along the Feather River and inundate Sacramento Valley communities that are homes to tens of thousands of people, including Oroville, Marysville and Yuba City. The city of Sacramento also could be affected, though experts said a levee breech along the Feather likely would relieve pressure in the system enough that Sacramento’s flood infrastructure could absorb the influx.

COMMENT: I think a secondary spillway failure and subsequent erosion in excess of the 30ft height of the secondary spillway structure is nevertheless a quite different scenario than DAM failure of the nearby dam. The height of the main dam is 770ft!!. The magnitude is just completely different.


35   just_dregalicious   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 11:27am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Hillside has granite bedrock. That isn't going anywhere.

36   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 11:35am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

indigenous says

urging federal officials to require that the dam’s emergency spillway be armored with concrete, rather than remain as an earthen hillside.

Excellent information and link, thank you. But former local Oroville resident JPT is not quite in agreement about the direct erosion dangers of the SECONDARY spillway?

just_passing_through says

Hillside has granite bedrock. That isn't going anywhere.

But still lots of damage can be done by eroding the trees and soil on top of the bedrock, and the debris can narrow or dam the river below, which is one reason operators previously shut down the flow through the power plant of the main dam, according to reports I read. I think the general understanding of the nuances is still developing in the mainstream media . We shall see.

PS: What does FOC stand for? I could not find out.

37   just_dregalicious   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 11:51am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

FOC=full of crap but I take it back. Not really interested in picking a fight.

The entire hillside below the auxiliary will not go away.

JPT... I wonder if that's my old friend Jason Taylor. His dad has the key to the city from development back in the 80s...

38   zzyzzx   ignore (1)   2017 Feb 13, 12:34pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Entitlemented says

Top causes of Dam failure are construction practices, and the soil mechanics, (AKA porousity and the ability to start capilary, and seepage effects:

OK, so they forgot to use a concrete sealer.

39   just_dregalicious   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 1:46pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Slow controlled drop is what they need to do... That is fine. Just like in a car speeding is safe. It's the sudden stop that kills you.

sidenote: I love how the local news guy in SD last night kept calling the situation, "fluid".

40   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 1:56pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Here's an example of a blatantly misleading report, by CNBC. It says it is 3 hours old right now, but it contains all kinds of misconceptions and falsehoods, starting with the statement (on top pf the video of the main spillway)

QUOTE: "Gaping hole in America's biggest dam keeps getting bigger."

The very least CBNC could do is to update their faulty video headline. Talk about misinformation. There is no hole in the dam, and the crater in the main spillway is not getting bigger. The quality control (editors!) in mainstream media continues to suck.


41   Rew   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 2:17pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

justme says

QUOTE: "Gaping hole in America's biggest dam keeps getting bigger."

Those assholes! Are they counting the spillway as part of the dam!? Who do they think they are!

"The hole found Sunday to the emergency spillway — essentially a natural hillside of soil, rock and brush — led engineers to shift major water flows away from this unlined channel."

OMG! Look at this! I am outraged. OUTRAGED!

Headline: Gaping hole in Oroville Dam spillway is growing, officials warn
"By Thursday, the hole had grown to about 45-feet-deep and 300-feet-wide by 500-feet-long, according to a KCBS report."

43   Booger   ignore (1)   2017 Feb 13, 4:37pm   ↑ like (5)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

California should have spent on infrastructure instead of illegal aliens

44   just_dregalicious   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 13, 4:46pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Booger says

California should have spent on infrastructure instead of illegal aliens

New undergrad researcher hired on here where (biotech) I work recently says to me: I took some environmental science classes and my professor says reservoirs are stupid!

UCSD or SDSU not sure which..

46   mell   ignore (2)   2017 Feb 13, 7:04pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

errc says

I'd love to see that math. Care to show your work?

The earth's climate is roughly divided into glacial and interglacial periods, we are currently near the end of an interglacial (warming) period, which typically only lasts 10K years, whereas the glacial periods last 10 times longer. The current CO2 concentrations are roughly 40% higher than the highest concentrations during past glacial/interglacial periods, yet global temperatures are 2 degrees celsius lower than during the past interglacial period where CO2 concentrations were much lower. And it seems like we are coming to an end. The hypothesis that man-made global warming via CO2 makes a statistically significant difference would be rejected no matter how you slice and dice the data. If you reduce the sample size to just the time when satellite measuring started (~40 yrs) ago you may be able to make a case, but that is basically excluding 99.99......% of available data, that is the millions of years before. That's how Al Gore arrived at his (in)famous hockey-stick curve.

47   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 14, 9:59am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        


Here is one possible position that a person (not me) might take on climate warming. It might or might not coincide with your position.

1. A person believes the physics of the greenhouse effect.

2. A person believes that OTHER non-man-made factors than concentration of CO2 lead to bigger FLUCTUATIONS in temperature than CO2 does.

3. A person therefore concludes there is no need to worry about CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

Personally, I agree with 1, slightly agree with 2, but completely disagree with 3. Here is why: The non-man-made fluctuations are around an average temperature that is changed by the CO2 concentration. Other effects such as volcanic eruptions and solar activity cause additional swings around these set points. But, our civilization was built around a specific CO2 level and a specific average temperature. All kinds of assumptions have been and are being implicitly made by humanity about agricultural crop production levels and geographical feasibility, sea levels, and water availability. If the average temperature changes even by a few degrees, these assumptions will lead to failure because civilization will NOT be able to respond quickly enough to these changes, and catastrophic results (mass death and mass reduction in living standards) are likely.

It really is that simple. We see the signs all around use with rising average temperatures, rising sea levels, melting icecaps and extreme weather becoming the new normal. Is it worth burning all that fossile fuel for our vanity just because the effects may not kill you personally in your very limited lifetime? I think not.


If a person (not talking about anyone in particular) does not even believe in premise 1, then I just cannot help. Ignoring basic scientific fact will not lead to any valid analysis.

48   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 14, 1:41pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

>>Hey justme... Is this FAKE news and a sensational headline??

No, both the quotes and the headline appear to be factual to me.

>>Why would they do this if the situation is under control??

As a precaution? The LA Times quote did not say the situation was "under control", whatever that means. Neither did I, for that matter.

I will say, though, that IMO, the Ironmoan situation is not under control. He gets all worked up about 25 national guardsmen and 13 amfibious(?) vehicles.

49   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 14, 1:52pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Update from SacBee at 11:55

Oroville update: Evacuation order remains as officials want ‘100 percent’ safety assurance

Lake Oroville should be empty enough to handle new storm, hydrologist says

As water levels continue to drop at Lake Oroville, the state’s chief hydrologist said Tuesday the reservoir should be empty enough to withstand the next round of rainstorms expected to hit late Wednesday.


COMMENT: There is still hype in the form of a video graphic that shows the estimated inundation effect of a dam break rather than a secondary spillway break. While informative, I wonder how many people understand the difference and the relative likelihoods.

50   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 14, 2:17pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Stop being such a dumbass, Ironmoan. I have called out some examples of fake news. Now you are trying goad me into saying that some real news is fake. As the elder and smarter Bush once said: "Not gonnna' do it!".

51   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 14, 5:39pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Ironmoan does not know the definition of hypocrisy. That is the polite way of saying it. And now I put him on ignore. I feel good.

PS: if y'all see a lot of comments I made that seem to replying to someone who is not there, those would be for Ironmoan (aka. Ironman).

52   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 14, 5:45pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Dale Kasler Verified account

BREAKING evacuation order lifted in Butte co. #orovilleDam

1:48 PM - 14 Feb 2017
0 replies 6 retweets 3 likes

53   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 14, 5:49pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Rew says

justme says

QUOTE: "Gaping hole in America's biggest dam keeps getting bigger."

Those assholes! Are they counting the spillway as part of the dam!? Who do they think they are!

You realize that the "hole" they talked about is a hole in the GROUND that has no water coming out of it, right? And said hole is not in the dam nor near the dam. There is a picture of the hole in post 2 of this thread, here: https://patrick.net/1302921/2017-02-13-lake-oroville-ca-dam-emergency?c=1380047#comment-1380047

So now maybe you realize how blatantly misleading the statement I called out was?

55   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 15, 7:55pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

just_passing_through says

FOC: because you're calling a potentially dire situation fake news.

For the record, and I find it symptomatic of fakery that I need to say this, I was not calling "the situation" fake news. I am calling out the misleading and sometimes completely errant description of the situation.

Fake news: Martian invaders break dam in Oroville.
Fake news: "Gaping hole in America's biggest dam keeps getting bigger."

The most dangerous form of fake news is the kind that seems believable, but is actually wrong and/or very misleading. Hence the first example is an obvious fake, but the 2nd example is the dangerous kind.

57   Rashomon   ignore (1)   2017 Feb 20, 7:37pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Yeah, the US didn't spend much on wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

58   anotheraccount   ignore (1)   2017 Feb 20, 7:59pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Rashomon says

Yeah, the US didn't spend much on wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Or unfunded Bush tax cuts for the rich. That's the biggest government handout of them all.

59   someone else   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 20, 8:05pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

tr6 says

Or unfunded Bush tax cuts for the rich. That's the biggest government handout of them all.

Yes, thanks for pointing that out @tr6

I added it as the top item in my platform: https://patrick.net/1303173/2017-02-19-patrick-net-platform

60   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 21, 4:38pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Continued erosion and damage at the main spillway near the Lake Oroville dam. TINA, There Is No Alternative, apparently. No mention as to whether the hydropower station has been restarted so as to offload the main spillway. There is a catch 22 here, because the erosion at the main spillway threatens power lines needed by the power station.


61   justme   ignore (0)   2017 Feb 28, 4:23pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

It is being reported that the Lake Oroville Dam hydroelectric power station may be partially re-started on Thursday, thereby allowing some water to be released, and productively so, through the power station. Meanwhile, the main spillway is temporarily shut off for inspection and removal of accumulated debris that hinders the flow in the canal/river below the spillway.

At peak capacity, the power station consumes and releases 14 kcfps of water. It is a small number compared to the 100 kfcps capacity of the (now damaged) main spillway.

Many more details in the full article


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