OROVILLE (CBS13) — With water rushing out of the Oroville spillway for the first time in years, officials expect river levels rise as more rain and snowmelt are predicted.
Drone video shows the awesome power of Mother Nature after the gates were opened at the Oroville Spillway and water began pouring out for the first time since the $1.1 billion reconstruction project began.
“I think they did a good job. They wouldn’t want to do it another time,” said one man who lives in the area.
He and his wife live in Biggs. They were forced to evacuate along with hundreds of thousands of others when many feared the spillway would collapse after record rainfall in February 2017.
He said he was nervous during evacuations because of the traffic.
Since then, the state has worked to redesign the spillway using 21st-century engineering. The concrete is now 7.5 feet thick and reinforced with 12.5 million pounds of reinforced steel. There are also internal devices to monitor pressure and possible movement.
“We expect it to run as designed and we are prepared,” Joel Ledesma with Department of Water Resources said.
On Tuesday, water rushing 8,300 cubic feet per second was released into the Feather River.
“We may increase flows to the Feather River and could raise it to 40,000-60,000 CFS later in the week to manage flows from storms,” said Molly White.
It’s something old timers around here have seen spring after spring.
“Are you worried? I am from the high country. I am above all this,” Carl Hector said.
Repairs cost $1.1 billion. California asked FEMA to pay for $639 million and FEMA only paid half, saying the spillway was damaged prior to 2017. Local water agencies will have to cover that remaining cost.