California Lawmakers Hold Oversight Hearing On Orvoville Dam

The people responsible for the Oroville Dam and those who managed the crisis created by the failed spillways got tough questions from lawmakers Thursday about what caused the Oroville Dam Crisis during a special oversight hearing. 

State Natural Resources Secretary, John Laird, and Department of Water Resources acting director, Bill Croyle, were joined by DWR's technical advisor as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle probed for answers to whether DWR did enough to maintain the dam or even to inspect it for potential problems.

Department of Water Resources officials answer lawmakers questions about failures at Oroville Dam.  Photo by Ryan Harris, KFBK

When Water Committee vice-chair - Republican James Gallagher, whose district includes Oroville - questioned Laird on whether the repair and modernization of the damaged spillway would take the effects of climate change into account as requested by the feds - even though federal relicensing of the dam doesn't happen until 2055. "We know we have to do it," Laird said. "We will be designing and rebuilding a spillway, regardless of how long the license takes, and when we do that, we want to take all these factors into account, and absolutely will."

Gallagher also asked about whether some of the possible causes of the spillway damage listed by the forensic inspectors were observed by DWR, but those questions were deferred to when the forensic team finishes its evaluation of the Dam.

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