Lake Oroville spillage causes immense damage to Northern California


Photo by: San Jose Mercury News

With all of the rain that has hit California in the past few months, containing all of the water, through the use of dams and other resources, has been difficult for California workers. One of the biggest issues is Lake Oroville, which became so full that the dam gates were opened and the spillways were used. This caused plentiful problems for the millions who rely on the dam for water, and even more problems for those who live in the area.


In May of 2006, the State Department of Water Resources filed papers against the federal officials stating that they rejected calls from three environmental groups with concerns about the dam’s stability. Many believed the dam needed to be reinforced by concrete. However, the federal officials argued that the state did not need to reinforce the emergency spillway.

With that in mind, the emergency spillway was used for the first time on February 11, 2017, since the dam was built in 1968. Water flowed over the spillway with about one-foot deep-erosion destroying the hill immensely. The Department of Water Resources announced, at the time of the breakage, that the spillway could collapse and fail within an hour of the initial break. When this was announced, it forced the evacuation of over 188,000 residents in the surrounding area. The massive amounts of fleeing residents caused immense traffic jams, which led to increased panic. 

Photo By: LA Times


Opened on May 4, 1968, the dam stands 770 feet high, making it the tallest dam in the United States. The dam is known as an earthfill dam or embankment dam, meaning that it is made from soil compounds. Oroville dam holds back Lake Oroville, which is the second largest man-made lake in California.

California received, on average, twice the amount of the usual rainfall this season. Therefore the rivers, lakes, and dams, are all very full, and there is more water yet to come.

By: Nathan Moore

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