Usually, when one thinks about California, they think of nice beaches, laid back attitudes, and droughts. Lately, there has been a lot of news about flooding conditions and problems with the Oroville Dam. The Oroville Dam is in Northern California and construction of the tallest earthen dam in the United States was completed in 1968. After a significant amount of rain during the first week of February, a crater began to form in the dam’s spillway. The workers reduced the amount of water that was to flow through the designed spillway to not create any more damage to it. This affected the dam significantly since the inflow to the above reservoir was greater than the outflow of the main spillway. This caused the dam to use its emergency spillway for the first time.
Since the emergency spillway was not designed to handle heavy flows from the dam, workers feared it too would fail just like the main spillway. Use of the emergency spillway caused severe erosion damage, and if it were to fail it would allow billions of gallons of water to flow quickly out of the dam and destroy everything in its path. Once the threat of this was possible, officials evacuated 188,000 people that were located in the floodplain. Most recently, the dam’s main spillway was inspected and was determined it can still handle large flows of water. The main spillway was reopened and allowed the workers to release more water quickly, so the emergency spillway was no longer needed. People were allowed to return to their homes and repair has begun on the emergency spillway to correct all the erosion problems.