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Analyzing the problem at Oroville

The media are stuck on showing the problems visible at Oroville Dam. So, only two of three obvious problems are being made public.

The first problem shown was the failure of the paving in the flow channel from the overflow control gates.

The second problem occurred when the overflow control gates were closed and the lake level increased, causing water to flow over the emergency overflow. The emergency overflow never complied with common practice, dam laws passed in the 1970s, and could never have been deemed safe. A failure resulted that endangered the lives of about 200,000 people.

Now ask yourself “Why is the lake overflowing?” My answer to that is that the outflow control systems must be in a state of disrepair that precludes basic control of the lake level. The dam has a huge underground hydroelectric power plant (something like 800 megawatts) and two very large bypass tunnels. Those tunnels were large enough to cause flooding downstream during a wet year while the dam was being built. No overflow occurred during construction. I wonder how much is still functioning.

Federal agencies need to inspect immediately and do repairs necessary for safety and power generation.

— Robert Christiansen, Madera

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