Residents were allowed to return to their homes, but serious danger remains. Working crews at the endangered dam are working around the clock to stabilize and reinforce the emergency spillway in anticipation of the melting snow pack runoff, which will again boost Oroville lake levels.
Multiple trucks are dropping giant boulders up to the amount of 1,200 tons of rock per hour . However, this mitigation is very small in comparison to the immense scale of erosion that has already taken place. There’s a real risk that the lake could again overtop its banks.
What I have learned is that the dam does not have to break for there to be a crisis downstream. That is right, the dam may never collapse, but there could still be a major crisis. However, if the hill collapses, next to the dam’s spillway, or the hill erodes, then there will be the same loss of water as if the dam broke. I have also learned that worst-case scenario is that the emergency spillway is lost and it just gets worse and worse. There would be a subsequent chain reaction and there will be a tremendous release of water. Further, the dam will be highly stressed and in danger of collapsing.
I interviewed Paul Preston, who has been to the dam several times, and we explored the question of rising temperatures and the spring run-off.
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