OROVILLE (CBS13) — The Department of Water Resources is preparing for heavy rain this week that could impact Lake Oroville and the halfway completed spillway.

The state agency sent out a news release saying the spillway may be utilized if the lake levels reach the trigger point of 830 feet.

The news generated uneasy feelings for some living in Oroville.

“It was really, really scary,” said Penni Faafiu, an Oroville resident.

She says she has vivid memories of the 2017 spillway collapse and the following chaos.

“I don’t want to get caught up like I did last time,” said Faafiu.

With heavy rain on the horizon, eerie feelings are creeping back in.

“Just kind of wondering, should I pack my bag?” questioned Faafiu.

The Department of Water Resources is increasing flows through the power plant at the base of Oroville Dam in anticipation of the rain later this week. But once the lake level reaches 830 feet, its possible water could come through the halfway-built spillway.

“We are definitely trying to minimize use of the spillway we are only halfway through construction for this year so we would like to wait until the construction is complete before using the spillway,” said Erin Mellon, a spokesperson for the DWR.

Erin Mellon with the Department of Water Resources says despite being unfinished, the spillway will hold if used.

“The construction was done really well. We’re very confident in that construction and the ability to use that spillway,” said Mellon.

“I think we will all be watching with bated breath,” said Jason Banks, the mayor of Live Oak.

Banks says he is impressed with the work DWR has done to this point.

“We have to give them credit,” said Banks, “they’ve done an incredible amount of work in a small amount of time.”

He says until the spillway is complete, every rain event will bring uneasy feelings.

“We are not there. If we were there we wouldn’t be worried about a very small amount of water coming over that spillway,” said Banks.

As an atmospheric river moves in, thousands of people are left waiting, watching, for what’s to come.

“I think it’s going to be okay. I like to try and hope for the best,” said Faafiu.


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