Oroville Dam

The newly rebuilt Oroville spillway may get its first real test in coming days. The Department of Water Resources says it will open the spillway gates if the lake level rises beyond a certain point with the incoming storm. It would be the first time water is sent down the reconstructed concrete chute since the original broke apart during last year’s emergency.  


Ken James / California Department of Water Resources

State officials insisted Thursday that hundreds of recently revealed cracks in the new Oroville Dam spillway are normal and don’t threaten the integrity of the recently completed first stage of work.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, DWR spokeswoman Erin Mellon said the hairline cracks were first noticed in late August. The cracks, which number in the hundreds, were first reveled to the media this week. Mellon downplayed their importance.

Ken James/ California Department of Water Resources

The new, mostly completed Oroville Dam spillway is riddled with tiny cracks, but state officials insist there is nothing wrong and nothing to be concerned about.

Even as officials celebrated meeting a Nov. 1 construction deadline, problems were already evident and documented. A letter federal regulators sent the California Department of Water Resources a month earlier referred to “a small number of cracks” appearing in upper layers of the new concrete.

report by Tony Johnson, also for the Center for Catastrophic Risk Management

Less than six months after near disaster, Oroville Dam is awash in activity. Workers and equipment are racing the calendar, making sure the nation’s tallest earthen dam can’t again reach the brink of catastrophe. But an ongoing forensic examination suggests otherwise. It says other dangers, possibly undermining the dam’s integrity, remain largely unaddressed. NSPR’s Marc Albert has more. 

An emergency siren will wail in Oroville at noon today, the first of what officials say will be monthly tests.

The haunting sound will blast for less than a minute according to the Department of Water Resources.

The new siren is meant to warn construction workers of an on-site emergency. The old system was destroyed during February’s near disaster. Monthly tests have been scheduled for noon on the first Friday of each month.

A total failure of Oroville dam would prove catastrophic. The loss of life, likely tremendous. Repair costs unknown.

While much of the focus in Oroville has shifted to restarting the hydro-electric Hyatt Power Plant, the extent of the tragedy narrowly averted last month is coming into better focus.

Oroville Dam Special Program

Feb 15, 2017
Florence Low / California Department of Water Resources


Tens of thousands of people were evacuated this week following the crisis at the Oroville Dam. These people in low-lying areas of Oroville and in communities along the Feather River are still under an evacuation warning. What does that mean? Tonight we're speaking with officials and residents about the current situation and sharing information that you need to know in the event of another evacuation order.

How To Look Up Road Closures

Feb 15, 2017

In the event of an emergency evacuation, it's important to know which roads are closed. Here are some links for quickly looking up information relevant to your travel. Consider bookmarking this page.