SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The cost of last year’s Oroville spillway emergency continues to grow. The new numbers from the Department of Water Resources show an increase of nearly 25 percent from earlier estimates.
In October the total cost of the project was estimated at $660 million. Through January 2019, DWR now says the project will tally $870 million.
“It’s possible that the number could change it could increase, it could decrease,” said Erin Mellon with the Department of Water Resources.
She says the additional costs include debris removal, power line replacement, staff time, and permit fees.
“It always existed. We just didn’t have an estimate,” said Mellon.
“Stay tuned. There will be millions more come down the pike before this is done,” said state Sen. Jim Nielsen.
Nielsen says DWR hasn’t yet priced ancillary work. He says levees must be fixed and river banks restored after they were destroyed by the massive release of water in February.
“In terms of getting it right, there is no history of the state ever coming close,” said Nielsen.
The Federal government reimburses 75 percent of the costs related to the emergency, but the former acting head of DWR told an oversight committee last May that FEMA won’t cover some costs.
“Is there a maintenance issue here? Because they’re not going to cover that,” said Bill Croyle to the committee of legislators in May. “But if it’s emergency response, they’re going to cover. So then it’s all about the documentation.”
A team of independent forensic investigators announced last month that the spillway disaster happened in part because of a lack of maintenance.
“We are going to keep submitting costs to FEMA, emergency costs until they tell us otherwise,” explained Mellon.
To date, $86 million has been refunded out of $115 million in requests. Work on the spillway and emergency spillway will continue for at least another 11 months.