FEMA Refuses To Pay Millions For Oroville Dam Repairs

The California Natural Resources Agency say the Federal Emergency Management Agency will not being providing the state with $306 million in reimbursements for repairs to the Oroville Dam.

Senator Jim Nielsen is a Republican from Tehama who represents Oroville in the California Legislature. On Friday he said, "FEMA is reimbursing DWR to pay for the emergency repair costs that were necessary following the Oroville Dam Spillway failure." FEMA has approved $333 million for repairs. However, the amount is less than half of what California has so far requested to repair the country's tallest dam, where spillways crumbled during major storms in early 2017. State water officials put total reconstruction costs at $1.1 billion.

Approximately 200,000 people living downstream were evacuated due to concerns the spillways or the dam itself might collapse.

The California Natural Resources Agency on Friday said the state plans to appeal the decision.

Nielsen is placing responsibility for the loss of federal funds on state water officials. "Thorough and routine maintenance should have been done over the past 50 years. The new spillway construction, and that of the new emergency spillway, will likely be covered by DWR," he said.

At the same time Nielsen said he believes critical infrastructure at the Oroville Dam has to finished and maintanence must be a priority in the future to ensure safety and reliability. Scientists and engineers, who issued the Independent Forensics Report, noted in January 2018 that maintenance deficiencies were contributing factors to the spillway’s failure. DWR appears to be responsible for the lack of maintenance and repair.

"Moving forward from this catastrophic event, DWR must be more vigilant in its inspections and more thorough in its maintenance of the Oroville Dam for the safety of the people of Oroville and residents living downstream," Nielsen added.



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