Bureaucratic bungling on Oroville Dam bodes ill for future California projects – Fresno Bee (weblog)

Slowly – however certainly – we're studying that the close to-catastrophic failure of Oroville Dam’s essential spillway wasn’t actually attributable to climate, though the state claims that in searching for federal help for repairs.

Somewhat, it resulted from poor engineering and building when the nation’s highest dam was rising greater than a half-century in the past because the centerpiece of the State Water Undertaking, and poor upkeep since its completion.

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Dan Walters

The most recent proof is a huge report by a group of engineering specialists, headed by Robert Bea and Tony Johnson of the College of California’s Heart for Catastrophic Threat Administration.

It concluded that the dam’s basic flaws had been compounded by many years of neglect by the state Division of Water Assets (DWR) and the Division of Security of Dams (DSOD).

“The gated spillway was managed to failure by DWR and DSOD,” the damning – no pun supposed – report declared.

Some of the abysmal failures cited was “the lately uncovered existence of DSOD inspection studies relationship again to 1989. For causes but to be totally decided, recognized deficiencies had been both ignored, handled as low precedence, not acted upon or a mixture thereof.”

The 124-page report added that “complacency, lack of business normal stage upkeep, and probably strain from inner DWR administration and exterior State Water Contractors’ representatives to carry down upkeep prices had been key contributors.”

Lastly, and most ominously, the examine group prompt that Oroville’s issues aren't confined to the spillway, whose collapse final February led to the close to-failure of an auxiliary spillway, a menace of failure within the dam itself, and big evacuations of these dwelling alongside the Feather River north of Sacramento.

If Oroville Dam and Bay Bridge set the usual for California projects, possibly the Delta tunnels and excessive-pace rail are disasters ready to occur.

The Bea-Johnson report says the dam could also be “going through a breach hazard from a severe and harmful type of a sluggish-movement failure mode” via leaks within the dam attributable to shifting of fill materials. The sensors which are purported to detect such shifts stopped working a few years in the past.

DWR has insisted all alongside that regardless of the spillway failure, the earthen-fill dam itself is “sound and protected.”

Shoddy engineering and design and neglectful upkeep in such an enormous, and massively necessary, construction is severe enterprise. If what Bea, Johnson and the opposite specialists say is correct, it might clarify why state officers from Gov. Jerry Brown downward have been so closed-mouthed about what went mistaken.

In spite of everything, if it wasn’t the climate, however human error, that created the issue, then the state’s plea for federal help is bogus.

However there’s an much more pertinent query raised by the Bea-Johnson examine – whether or not the state is even able to competently constructing and sustaining big public works projects.

One remembers the more moderen instance of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, one third of which was changed after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake revealed the part’s flaws.

It not solely took 1 / 4-century to design and construct the futuristic substitute, however prices wound up 4 occasions their authentic estimate and after it was accomplished, it was revealed that there have been main building flaws that the Division of Transportation didn’t disclose however investigative journalism by The Sacramento Bee uncovered. When requested about it, Brown infamously replied, “Shit happens.”

In the meantime, Brown needs the state to construct two extra mega-projects.

One would bore water tunnels to hold Oroville Dam’s water beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and full the State Water Undertaking that was the proudest achievement of his father, Pat Brown. The opposite is a north-south bullet practice.

If Oroville Dam and the Bay Bridge set the usual for how the state does such issues, possibly the tunnels and the practice are disasters ready to occur.

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Bureaucratic bungling on Oroville Dam bodes ill for future California projects - Fresno Bee (weblog)