An investigation into last winter’s near catastrophe at Oroville Dam uncovered a litany of problems with how the dam was built and maintained, but one of them stands out: Even as workers built the dam, they were raising alarms about the eroded, crumbling rock on which they were directed to lay concrete for the 3,000-foot-long main flood control spillway.
Archive for date: January 22nd, 2018
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California’s sweeping effort to regulate groundwater extraction is still in its infancy. But many community groups are already concerned that too little is being done to involve low-income and disadvantaged residents in managing aquifers dominated by agriculture.
Black & Veatch has been selected to serve as owners’ representative for an energy storage facility at the San Vicente Reservoir near Lakeside in San Diego County, California. The project owners, the San Diego County Water Authority and the City of San Diego, are assessing the potential to develop the 500 MW San Vicente Energy Storage Facility to increase the availability and efficiency of renewable energy for the region. It will provide enough stored energy to supply approximately 325,000 homes annually.
Los Angeles is a grand American urban experiment. It brings emerging ideas into the mainstream, sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse. In the early 20th Century, it seemed fanciful to build a metropolis in a region receiving limited seasonal rainfall. But LA adopted the ideas of the time at grand scales. It built pipelines over hundreds of miles of rugged terrain to import water from the Owens Valley (1913), Colorado River (1939), and Northern California (1972). In a quest for growth, LA has always adopted new ideas to keep ahead.
Controversy is swelling over the February 2017 spillway collapse at the Oroville Dam in Northern California, after local officials last week filed a scathing lawsuit alleging corruption at the state’s main water agency and lawmakers called for FERC to delay the facility’s relicensing. “Decades of mismanagement and intentional lack of maintenance” by the California Department of Water Resources led to the federally declared disaster, according to allegations in the Jan. 17 lawsuit filed by the City of Oroville against the department.
The news, as it often does, has been bouncing back and forth from extreme to extreme — historic drought, historic snowfall, historic fires, fatal floods and mudslides. That’s the nature of California’s climate. A common saying among water officials is that there’s no average year in California. Of course, when they add up rainfall and snowfall records, there is an average. But that average obscures savage fluctuations between bone-dry years and years of floods and landslides.