DWR, independent commissions working at "rapid pace" to repair spillway

DWR, independent commissions working...

OROVILLE, Calif. - The rebuilding of the Oroville Dam's main and emergency spillways will begin in May and will be pursued aggressively in June, according to the Department of Water Resources (DWR).

Officials hope that a functioning, if not completed, spillway will be ready for use by November.

The DWR said it's working at a "rapid pace" with two independent commissions, including the California Division of Safety of Dams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to be certain that the new plans and specifications meet their standards.

According to David Gutierrez, an expert in dam construction and a consultant with the DWR, the current plans are concurring with the independent boards.

An independent forensic team is studying the cause of the initial spillway failure and will use those findings to avoid similar problems with the new spillway. The investigator's final report won't be released until the Fall of 2017, but by identifying potential causes during their investigation they hope to make the final design as safe as possible.

Potential causes of failure include the type of drain used and the thickness of the concrete slab.

Gutierrez noted that the forensic team is an active participant in the process of the design. He also said that the speed of the design creation is going very quickly.

"[Designing is] being done at a record pace I've never seen," said Gutierrez.

Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) issued a joint statement welcoming the new information. 

“DWR has responded to our concerns and has taken a big step in the right direction by releasing reports that detail the recovery efforts at Oroville Dam. We appreciate their efforts to improve transparency ... Improving communication and openness with the public will go a long way to help relieve the distrust that our constituents already feel,” read the statement. 

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