Oroville Dam Spillway Tested

State Department of Water Resources (DWR) officials on Wednesday conducted a test of the Oroville Dam spillway to see how strong it is after erosion was discovered at the spillway yesterday.  Up to 20,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) was expected to be released into the spillway before the flow was reduced to allow for assessment of any further damage to the eroded spillway.  The test flow was expected to run for two hours.

Photo by Andrew Graham, KFBK

The Wednesday test will allow engineers to verify how much flow the spillway can handle.  The engineers will then try to determine how best to make repairs.   They add that the spillway is necessary to maintain reservoir operations, given the immediate forecast of continued rain for the next two days and also in preparation for the remaining runoff season.

Photo by Andrew Graham, KFBK

As part of a contingency plan, the DWR is removing trees and debris from the corridor near the dam where water would flow in the event the emergency spillway is needed.  Reportedly enough vacant space exists in the reservoir to capture the flow of the rains expected through Friday afternoon.  The dam is believed to be sound, and officials say no imminent threat to the public exists.

The damaged spillway was spotted on Tuesday spewing water after rock erosion caused the water release to splash out of the spillway. The dam itself is not compromised, and water officials say the breach poses no threat to the public or water supply.



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