House Democrats seek review of US dam safety


SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California water officials say they have awarded a contract to fix Oroville Dam's two damaged spillways to a Nebraska construction company.

Connolly says that backup spillway was never meant to be used for flood control so "they never should have let the lake overflow".

Then, a backup spillway started falling apart, triggering the evacuation order for almost 200,000 people.

An Associated Press review has uncovered a series of questionable decisions and missteps before and during the crisis. Operators announce it is less likely the emergency spillway will be needed, after they boost water releases from the lake.

The Los Angeles Times reports state officials say water could continue pouring down the spillway for up to two weeks. The main spillway kept eroding but handled the flow. State officials are expanding efforts to inform the public, but say there have been dozens of news briefings, updates and advisories.

The Department of Water Resources announced Monday that Kiewit Corp. of Omaha was awarded a $275 million contract to fix the state's second largest reservoir.

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The 78-page report goes into deep detail citing what led to an nearly catastrophic flooding event in late January to February.

A federally ordered investigation is underway. DWR hopes to have the spillways repaired and operational by November 1, the traditional start of the rainy season.

Rick Poeppelman, chief of the Army Corps' engineering division for the region, said his agency and the state water managers made the best decisions they could. Later that afternoon, Honea, the sheriff, learns the emergency spillway is breaking apart.

"The Oroville Dam failure did not come without warning", they said in a letter to the Government Accountability Office.

In 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission affirmed the safety of both spillways and said there was no point in studying or discussing whether the possibility of either could fail, state officials told AP.