Why California Should be Preparing for Floods, Even in the Midst of Drought

The explorer John Wesley Powell once poked fun at the professional rainmakers of his time, writing, “Years of drought and famine come and years of flood and famine come, and the climate is not changed with dance, libation or prayer.”

As we now know, humans can change the climate — one reason the current drought is so intense, sparking what could be a record wildfire season and depleting mighty reservoirs such as Mead and Oroville.

Aging Oroville Dam Spillway Gates Draw Concern

Despite increased maintenance of Oroville Dam since the spillway fell apart in February 2017, members of the community-led Oroville Dam Ad Hoc Group have expressed concern about the age and wear of mechanics within the spillway’s main gates, citing similar failures on dams of the same era.

The Department of Water Resources convened a meeting Nov. 13 of the Oroville Dam Ad Hoc Group — an organization comprised of local elected officials and stakeholders appointed by state Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama) and Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) — as part of the Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment that was initiated by the DWR after the spillway crumbled.