Nearly 200,000 Northern Californians who live downstream of the country’s tallest dam were allowed to return home after two nights of uncertainty, but they were warned they may have to again flee to higher ground on a moment’s notice if hastily made repairs to the battered structure don’t hold.
The fixes could be put to their first test later this week with the first of a series of small storms forecast for the region.
But the real test is still to come in the weeks ahead when a record amount of snowfall melts in nearby mountains.
“There is the prospect that we could issue another evacuation order if the situation changes and the risk increases,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said Tuesday, telling residents they could return home but to remain vigilant.
State and federal officials ignored calls in 2005 from environmental groups to armor the earthen spillway in concrete to prevent erosion. Federal regulators concluded the earthen spillway could handle a large amount of overflow after water agencies that would have had to pay for the upgrade argued it was unnecessary.
The less than brilliant, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, a Democrat who represents an area near Oroville, called the government’s failure to coat the spillway in concrete “a classic case of woulda, coulda, shoulda.”
He said that if the state had listened to the 2005 warnings and installed the concrete a decade ago, “This problem would not have occurred. But they didn’t, and there are probably multiple reasons why,” with cost a crucial one.
Garamendi obviously doesn’t get it that he’s part of the “government’. One can only wonder WTF he’s been doing since 2005.
Read the whole story in the Modesto Bee