Oroville Dam Crisis Blamed on DWR

Long-term and systemic failures by California officials and regulators to recognize inherent construction and design flaws caused last year's near-disaster at the tallest U.S. dam.

Members of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials and the U.S. Society on Dams carried out an independent investigation into the human and technical problems that caused the crisis at California's Oroville Dam. 

Both spillways at the half-century old dam gave way in February 2017, forcing evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people downstream.

The independent panel of dam safety experts say the structure had inherent design and construction weaknesses. The report faults California's Department of Water Resources and other regulators for allegedly failing to recognize and address those problems, over the course of decades of inspections and reviews.

“We strongly supported having an independent assessment of the spillway failure and take the findings very seriously,” said DWR Director Grant Davis. “This report is consistent with the independent team’s initial technical findings from last May which were fully incorporated in the design of the reconstructed spillways. As we have done in the past, we will carefully assess this report, share it with the entire dam safety community and incorporate the lessons learned going forward to ensure California continues to lead the nation on dam safety.”

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