Reconstruction has begun at Oroville Dam
The reconstruction of Oroville Dam’s flood-control spillways is underway and officials vowed that the structures will become stronger and safer. The demolition started last month and reconstruction of the two spillways, the main spillway and the emergency spillway, will begin this month. State designers have taken into account some of the criticisms that were addressed by an outside team of forensics investigators and others. The criticisms include an inadequate drainage system beneath the spillway and inconsistencies in the thickness of its concrete slabs. Jeanne Kuttel, chief of the Department of Water Resources’ engineering division, stated:
The concrete will be thicker… [And the spillway will be supported by] state-of-the-art drains. [Dam officials] adopted design measures to mitigate any of the challenges that the forensics team identified as possible contributors (to the crisis).
The complete repair is estimated to take two years and this year will focus mainly on repairing the badly damaged lower portion of the main spillway, which should be operational by November. Next year, the upper section of the structure will be replaced and workers will be working 20 hours a day, six days a week, to get as much work done as possible this year. Kiewit Corporation of Omaha, Nebraska was awarded a $275.4 million contract to fix the dam’s two spillways and will have a workforce that will increase to about 500 workers by August. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse much of the repair cost and the water agencies that store water in Lake Oroville are expected pay for the rest of the expenses. Hopefully everything goes as planned and the dam is functional by the start of the rainy season.
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