Member Spotlight – November 2018

  • by Will Holbert
  • Nov 16, 2018
  • Newsletters

Enough concrete was poured during work on the Oroville Main Spillway to pave a 5.5-foot wide sidewalk from Oroville to Amarillo, Texas. Photo credit: Ryan McKinney, California Department of Water Resources

Oroville Dam Recovery Nearly Complete

The Department of Water Resources has completely reconstructed the main spillway at Oroville Dam as of Nov. 1 and states that it is prepared for the upcoming winter. The newly constructed spillway is now built to its original design capacity of 270,000 cubic feet per second.   

In a news release, DWR Director Karla Nemeth credited help from state, federal and local agency partners in achieving the goal and thanked surrounding communities for their patience, along with DWR staff who worked tirelessly on the Oroville spillways over the past two construction seasons. But while meeting the Nov. 1 milestone was significant, there is still more work to do before the project can be considered complete, she said. 

Concrete on the main spillway is expected to have cured by Dec. 1, in time for the rainy season and use of the main spillway if necessary. Dry finishing, joint sealing, completing sidewall backfill and site clean-up on the main spillway will also continue after that date.

“More than 700 construction workers, many of them from Butte County and other parts of Northern California, literally worked day and night to make incredible progress during the 2018 construction season,” said Tony Meyers, DWR project manager for the Oroville Spillways Emergency Recovery Project. “Staff from nearly every corner of DWR worked on the project in some capacity over the past year and a half and their planning, execution and hard work contributed to meeting this Nov. 1 milestone.”

The Lake Oroville saga began to unfold on Feb. 7, 2017, when DWR personnel discovered the reservoir’s gated primary spillway had sustained significant erosion damage while water was being released in the wake of heavy inflow from recent storms. Within a week, heavy inflow continued and the reservoir exceeded its 901-foot elevation capacity, with water flowing over the emergency spillway for the first time in the dam’s 48-year history. The bare hillside below the emergency spillway began to erode, prompting the evacuation of 188,000 residents in the Oroville area and downstream. 

The Oroville Spillways Emergency Recovery Project employed more than 700 construction workers. Photo credit: Kelly M. Grow, California Department of Water Resources

DWR faced heavy scrutiny and criticism over the evacuation and the conditions behind the spillway incident. This included the formation of an Oroville Spillways Independent Forensic Team, which released a report in January that faulted “long-term systematic failure” on the part of DWR, regulatory and general industry practices, but stated that the incident could not reasonably be blamed mainly on any one person, group or organization.

During the next 21 months, DWR and its construction contractors rebuilt and reinforced the spillway to higher standards at a cost of more than $1 billion, 75% of which will be shared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the remaining 25% by water districts that rely on Lake Oroville water.

At 770 feet, Oroville Dam is the tallest in the U.S. and can store more than 3.5 million acre-feet as a key part of the State Water Project. It also includes a hydroelectric plant and provides flood protection.

Leading up to the Nov. 1 milestone, a year and a half of work on the main spillway wrapped up with the final placement of 990 erosion-resistant concrete slabs, 330 new concrete walls, and energy dissipators at the base of the spillway. On the emergency spillway, there are now approximately 700,000 cubic yards of roller-compacted concrete (RCC) on the splashpad along with an RCC buttress at the base of the emergency spillway. Placement of a structural concrete cap connecting the RCC buttress to the emergency spillway structure is expected to be complete in early 2019.

More information and videos chronicling the construction process can be accessed through DWR’s website at

Print PDF Version

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Presentations and Resources from Aug. 7, 2019 Agriculture Committee Meetings

A Proposed Methodology for Quantifying the Efficiency of Agricultural Water Use AWMP Guidebook Working Group AB 1668 Draft Drought Plan […]

Integrated Regional Water Management Policy Principles

On July 26, 2019, the ACWA Board of Directors adopted new policy principles on Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) in […]

ACWA Comment Letter on Notification Levels for PFOA, PFOS

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water Subject: Notification Levels and Response Levels for PFOA and PFOS […]

Priority Issues Bulletin

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

July 2019 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA and CMUA Comment Letter on the Drinking Water Needs Assessment Conceptual Plan

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA Dues Automation Process Webinar

ACWA has a recording available of the webinar on the new Dues Automation Process. The purpose of this recording is to assist […]

ACWA 2019 Spring Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2019 Spring Conference & Exhibition held May 7-10 in Monterey are available below. Please note that this […]

Comment Letter on the Proposed Framework for Performance Standards for Water Loss

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Proposed Framework for Performance Standards for Water Loss Letter excerpt:  Dear Mr. Gomberg: Thank […]

Federal Legislative Matrix

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Overview Presentations: Water Conservation/Water Use Efficiency Laws of 2018 (AB 1668/SB 606) and Implementation Challenges

State Overview by Peter Brostrom, Department of Water Resources (May 2019) Implementations Challenges by David Bolland, ACWA (May 2019) A […]

May 2019 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

COMMENT LETTER: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Proposed Revised Definition of “Waters of the United States”

Agency: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Subject: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. […]

California H2O: Flowing for the Future

ACWA and J Comm, Inc. have collaborated to create a 10-part video series to educate Californians about critical water issues. […]

Energy and Water Resources Policy Principles

In January 2019, ACWA released policy principles on “Energy and Water Resources” in California. The updated principles will help guide […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA News: Aug. 16, 2019

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Five Year Strategic Plan Underway

Barely more than half way through, 2019 has already proven itself another exciting year for ACWA members.  That has certainly […]

Member Spotlight: ACWA JPIA – August 2019

The water industry contains more than its share of hazards, risks and innumerable things that could go wrong. Accidents, natural […]

NID acts to protect reservoirs from invasive mussels

With boating season in high gear, efforts continue to protect local reservoirs from aquatic invasive species. Nevada Irrigation District (NID) […]

SFPUC’s New Facility Honored for Excellence in Sustainable Infrastructure

SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SFPUC) new Headworks Facility at the Southeast Treatment Plant has been […]

Paul Kelley Leaving CalDesal

ACWA Past President Paul Kelley has announced he is leaving as CalDesal Executive Director, effective Sept. 30 or until a […]

Four Local Students to be Recognized for Water is Life Art Contest

RIVERSIDE – On Aug. 7, Western Municipal Water District’s Board of Directors recognized four local students during the regularly scheduled […]

West Basin Connects Dominguez Technology Center to Recycled Water System

West Basin Municipal Water District (West Basin) commemorated the connection of the Dominguez Technology Center to the District’s recycled water […]

Zone 7 Recognized for Being a Leader in Groundwater Management

In July, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced the approval of Zone 7’s Alternative Groundwater Sustainability Plan, a […]

Registration Open for Steve Hall Golf Tournament; Date and Location Changed

Registration is now open for the annual Steve Hall Fierce Competitor Golf Tournament scheduled for Sept. 13 at the Rancho […]

ACWA Thanks Its Members

ACWA’s Member Appreciation Month in August gives our staff an opportunity to thank our members. As part of this seventh Membership […]

ACWA Members Awarded WaterSMART Grants

Eight ACWA member water agencies will receive grant funding for system improvements through the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART Program, all […]

Mesa Water Director Fisler Elected as Special District Voting Member of OC LAFCO

COSTA MESA — Mesa Water District (Mesa Water®) is pleased to announce that Director James R. (“Jim”) Fisler was elected […]

Moulton Niguel Awarded Grant to Save Customers Money and Conserve

Moulton Niguel Water District is getting a boost in its effort to conserve more than 500 million gallons of water […]

Updating Your Agency’s Information Made Simple

To ensure that ACWA has all of your agency’s most relevant and up-to-date information on file, please let us know […]