by Rob Malcolm

OROVILLE (CBS13) — With a spring storm ready to pound Northern California, some people living upstream and down from the Oroville Dam have theories as to whether it’s safe. Rumors have been spreading on social media and by word of mouth.

Longtime resident Misty Anderson heard one rumor.

“The dam is over its maximum capacity and they can’t let any water out of the spillway,” she said.

“The ground’s too corroded up there. You’re just basically putting a band-aid on a big patch,” said Andy Buckley.

Buckley doesn’t believe the dam was fixed, even after the state spent $1.1 billion on repairs to fix the dam after it was damaged by a storm in February 2017. State officials quickly countered, saying it is perfectly fine.

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“The dam is safe and spillway is safe and if we need to use the spillway to manage lake levels we are ready and able to do that,” said Erin Mellon, a spokesperson with the Department of Water Resources.

Mellon also addressed the seismic activity recently recorded at the dam saying, ”There was recent activity but that was actually measuring an earthquake that happened earlier in the day in Papua New Guinea, so some of our seismic equipment is actually quite sensitive.”

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea released a statement regarding concerns from community members and provided an update on what he and his team have been doing to monitor the spillway.

Honea said he’s made personal visits to the dam with engineers and hydrology experts. He doesn’t believe the dam poses a threat and if it does, the public will be alerted.

That was good enough for resident Curtis Engen, who says it was the right thing for the Sheriff ease fears in the community and address the rumors.

“I think him going up there is a good thing for Oroville and for him to make a statement like ‘hey…everything’s good, don’t worry about it,'” Engen said.

  1. Michael Allen says:

    Why did the DWR try to have verbiage retracted from an independent study of engineers? Possible damage occured to the foundation of the dam at the spillway resulting in underground seepage which they expressed concern over! The spillway itself should be fine however it’s unknown whether the foundation at the base of the spillway can handle the stress of another long term major release of water. They are claiming the seepage we are seeing is normal however Mulholland said the same thing before one of his dams collapsed. It’s comforting to know the sheriff will “alert” residents if anything changes unfortunately that will result in another cluster mess of people all trying to exit at the same time and that was a disaster itself last time! Why has the lake been kept at such a full level through spring? DWR has a flood contro responsiblity first which mandates lake levels kept managable through the spring due to snow run off which is considerable this year. I’m not saying the dam isn’t safe but I’m saying to be cautious what public officials are telling you!

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