Member Spotlight – November 2018

  • by Katherine Causland
  • 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
ACWA 2018 Fall Conference Presentations

Presentations from ACWA’s 2018 Fall Conference & Exhibition held Nov. 27-30 in San Diego are available below. Please note that […]

2018 Summary of Legislation

ACWA’s 2018 Summary of Legislation provides concise information on legislation enacted in the second year of the 2017-’18 legislative session that […]

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. […]

ACWA’S 2018 Fall Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop Materials

The following presentations and materials for ACWA’s 2018 Legal Briefing and CLE Workshop on Nov. 27 from 9 a.m. to […]

Comments on 2018 Electronic Annual Reporting

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: 2018 Electronic Annual Reporting Letter excerpt:  We appreciate your efforts in convening the Division of […]

2018 Summary of Appellate Cases

ACWA’s  2018 Summary of Appellate Cases details court decisions in 2017-’18 that may be of interest to ACWA member agencies […]

November 2018 Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

ACWA’s November 2018 Federal Regulatory Chart, is now available. This chart details the status of federal regulatory issues being tracked by […]


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

Bay-Delta Plan Update Toolkit

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

ACWA 2018 Regulatory Summit Presentations

ACWA’s 2018 Regulatory Summit was held on Oct. 16, 2018 at the Hilton Arden-West in Sacramento. The theme of this […]

Comments on Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program Implementation

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Implementation of Low-Income Water Rate Assistance Program Letter excerpt:  The Association of California Water Agencies […]

Joint Comments On Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life: Primer

Agency: Department of Water Resources Subject: Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life: Primer of 2018 Legislation on Water […]

August 2018 Federal Regulatory Chart

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

Toolkit Available for Supporting, Educating About Proposition 3

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


California’s second annual Water Professionals Appreciation Week will kick off Oct. 6, highlighting the important role of water industry professionals […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
ACWA Launches “California H2O: Flowing For the Future” Video Series to Promote California Water Industry

ACWA has developed the first three episodes of a new educational video series to help member agencies inform their customers, […]


COMMERCE – The Central Basin Municipal Water District is proud to announce that residents and businesses in our service area […]

Two CVWD projects selected to receive EPA federal loans

COACHELLA – Two Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) stormwater projects have been selected to receive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) federal […]

State Water Project Begins Year with 10 Percent Allocation

On Nov. 30, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced an initial allocation on the State Water Project (SWP) […]

Award Winners on Display at ACWA’s 2018 Fall Conference in San Diego

SAN DIEGO – Today, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) handed out awards in several categories to water agencies and individuals […]

ACWA Awards Graduate Scholarship for 2018-’19 Academic Year

SAN DIEGO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today announced the winner of its 2018-’19 Stephen K. Hall Water […]

New PWD Water System Master Plan, Associated Fees Approved

PALMDALE – A new Water System Master Plan that projects infrastructure needs through 2030, including updated Capital Improvement and Water Supply […]

Central Basin Recognized for Excellence In Information Technology

COMMERCE – The Central Basin Municipal Water District has once again been recognized for information technology practices that excel in […]

EMWD Announces 2018 Water Champion Award Recipient

PERRIS — Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) today announced that Assemblywoman Anna Caballero was selected for its 2018 Water Champion […]

Operation FATFISH

A recent ACWA event jointly hosted by Region 2 and Region 4 vividly illustrated the value behind functional flows and […]

November/December Priority Issues Update

The November/December 2018 Priority Issues Update is now available online to members. The update is bullet-style summary of the latest […]

PWD, Partners Break Ground at Recharge Project Site

PALMDALE – Palmdale Water District (PWD) officials joined the City of Palmdale, California Department of Water Resources and other local […]

New Assistant General Manager Named for Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District

LAKE ELSINORE – Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District (EVMWD) named Brian Macy, P.E., seasoned water and engineering industry leader, as […]

Western’s Communications Programs Take Home Top Honors

RIVERSIDE – Western Municipal Water District (Western) received nine top honors from the Public Relations Society of America-Inland Empire Chapter […]


ROWLAND HEIGHTS– The Rowland Water District Board of Directors has released the details of its latest, comprehensive Strategic Plan, which […]