BUTTE COUNTY (CBS13) – Oroville Dam is officially back open to the public two years after it was forced to close due to the failure of the dam’s main and emergency spillways.

People can now walk and bike the more than one-mile-long road across the dam crest. Public vehicles will still not be allowed.

Officials opened Oroville Dam’s main spillway in early April because of the melting Sierra snowpack and because of the heavy amounts of rain California experienced.

The original spillway on the 770-foot-high (235-meter) dam, which is 150 miles (241 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, was built in the 1960s.

In early 2017, storms drenched the state and the massive spillway broke apart as it carried heavy flows.

Dam operators reduced the flow and allowed water to run down an emergency spillway — essentially a low area on the reservoir’s rim — but the flow began eroding the earthen embankment that had never been used. Authorities suddenly had to order an evacuation of nearly 200,000 people living in communities downstream.

The threat of a dam collapse that would unleash a torrent of water did not happen, however, and people were allowed to go home days later.

 

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