LOS ANGELES, CA (FOX 11 / Editorial) - It is an absolute travesty that the State of California allowed the Oroville Dam to deteriorate to the point of almost causing a massive flood and loss of life.
A substantial portion of our water supply was threatened and
200,000 people had to be evacuated from three counties and a number of communities around Oroville, a small town one hour north of Sacramento.
So how did this catastrophic disaster almost happen?
It is simply that The State of California under Governor Brown has for years had the wrong priorities.
Case in point.
In 2005, state and federal officials decided to ignore warnings that the dam and spillway at Oroville needed upgrading and repair. Also sharing the blame is the Metropolitan Water District of So. Cal, who said the repair was unnecessary and have not maintained these aging dams, spillways, levees, and aqueducts adequately.
In December 2016 our governor sent to the Trump administration a list of infrastructure projects he wanted funded. Of course the bullet train made the list but repairing the Oroville Dam was nowhere to be found.
At the time heavy rains had been soaking California for months and were predicted to be record setting putting all of our dams and adjacent communities in serious peril.
The Brown administration made a very dangerous assumption that an old spillway would handle any potential Oroville Dam flooding. They were dead wrong. And testing for defects and continued maintenance was not a priority. Now as a result of the overflows from the recent heavy rains, a massive hole developed in the earthen over flow spillway adjacent to the Oroville Dam putting the entire massive dam structure in very serious jeopardy. State officials were caught by surprise which is incredibly disturbing given all the warnings.
They were not prepared to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people that were vulnerable and gravely threatened.
Finally Governor Brown recently proposed spending 387 million dollars for flood control including Oroville Dam. The money would come from a 2014 water bond. So Governor Brown had the money for almost two and a half years and did nothing.
Going forward fixing the Oroville Dam and our water infrastructure should be the top priority for Governor Brown not high speed rail or the twin tunnels project.
Thanks for listening.
I'd like to hear your point of view.
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VP/General Manager, KTTV-TV