It's the usual story of the usual incompetance, graft and corruption"
"Eight years before a gaping hole appeared in the dam’s main spillway last week, followed by erosion in the emergency spillway that led to an evacuation order covering more than 180,000 surrounding residents, the county filed a lawsuit against DWR, over what the county thinks the state owes it.
When the lawsuit was brought to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011, County Attorney Bruce Alpert said the DWR and FERC did not dispute that the county spent at least $1.7 million a year on project safety issues. In January 2017, Alpert said FERC had also conducted studies showing the county loses $6 million in property tax revenue.
Added to the county’s list of grievances over the operations of the dam are a 2009 study conducted by local environmental groups pointing to concerns over the emergency spillway and an accident at the dam that same year.
Five DWR employees testing river valves were injured when a steel bulkhead collapsed in a tunnel at the Hyatt Powerplant. An investigation by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health found the department at fault, for knowingly putting their employees in danger. There were also concerns that an oil spill resulted from the incident, but the department said the water was uncontaminated.
Oroville-area Supervisor Connelly is frustrated because what turned into an emergency situation he said was “somewhat foreseen.”
“We’ve had a failure of the river valve, the powerplant. We’ve had a lack of maintenance that’s due,” he said. “They haven’t considered climate change in the operation of the facility. They’re operating it in the way of the last century”
The powerhouse has been out of operation since the morning of Feb. 10, as debris flowing into the bottom of the main spillway made water levels in the Diversion Pool too high for the plant, which can crank out 14,000 cfs flows at maximum capacity to safely operate. At Thursday’s press conference, DWR Acting Director Bill Croyle said the department hoped to utilize the underground turbines again soon, but didn’t expect to be able to before Monday.
“Whatever they’re doing isn’t working,” Connelly said. “Obviously we need some different type of maintenance. They don’t talk about it much, but they have a hard time keeping the six generators running at the dam.”