Water is again moving down the repaired spillway Oroville Dam in Butte County for the first time since the original structure crumbled two years ago and threatened to flood communities downstream.
Video from the California Department of Parks and Recreation shows a steady flow of water coming down the main spillway Tuesday. This comes as spring storms are expected to raise the level of the lake behind Oroville Dam this week to a point which requires controlled releases to prevent water from going over the top of the dam in an uncontrolled manner.
DWR's Molly White said crews may increase how much water is released if needed.
The original spillway crumbled in early 2017 due to heavy water flows brought on by strong storms that season. Communities in the shadow of the dam were evacuated over fears of a catastrophic failure at the nations tallest dam. That meant nearly 200,000 people were forced out of their homes.
Despite some skepticism by at least one independent expert, DWR officials said the rebuilt spillway was "designed and constructed using 21st century engineering practices." They also claimed there is no record of that expert ever visiting the dam.
California Highway Patrol officials reportedly will have an increased presence along Oro Dam Boulevard as of Tuesday.
Water is being released at 8,300 cubic feet per second but could be increased to 20,000. The new spillway is designed to handle 270,000 cubic feet per second. Even at 8,300, the downstream effects will be seen all the way to Sacramento. Keith Wade, captain with Sacramento Fire says it could take some time for the water to reach Sacramento, but when it does, the Sacramento River could rise quickly. And the water will be very muddy and filled with hidden debris, some of it as large as logs and tree branches. Parents should never be out of arms reach of their kids while near the water. And Wade says boaters should use a spotter to help point out any debris.