Dam Trouble

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7SacredPools

Trad climber
Ontario, Canada
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 13, 2017 - 08:23am PT
http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/12/us/california-oroville-dam-failure/index.html
c wilmot

climber
Feb 13, 2017 - 08:24am PT
Dam it
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 13, 2017 - 08:38am PT
The dam operators have been rolling the dice with lady luck. There's always a balancing act between the desire to fill the reservoir and leaving enough of an empty buffer to absorb a massive storm.

Here's what I've seen / supposed from a near-distance:

1. Due to long term drought, getting Lake Oroville up to near-capacity this spring is a big priority
2. Jan. storms provided enough rainfall to fill the reservoir
3. Jan. is too early to fill the reservoir, due to the possibility of more storms in Feb March
4. Feb storms threatened to fill the reservoir to its high water mark
5. When they started letting water out the normal spillway, it broke and began eroding.
6. They slowed the outflows to assess the damage.
7. Meanwhile a much bigger influx of water than forecasted began entering the reservoir from upstream
8. The reservoir filled to the emergecy spillway line - this reservoir has never been this high, not once since it was built. The emergency spillway is / was an untested feature of the dam
9. I could tell dam operators were loathe to let water come over the emergency spillway, they hem hawed publicly, then opened the throttles on the normal spillway despite its damage.
10. Water came over emergency spillway anyway. At first all seemed ok but water being water....
11. The emergency spillway failed in design, and has come close / is close to outright failure.
12. The lake is still too full
13. Another storm is on the way.

Not to point fingers but 200,000 people were evacuated yesterday / last night due to COMPOUND ERRORS ON THE PART OF THE DAM OPERATORS. This is not a singular event of mother nature, this more seems to be a gamble on the part of the DWR going poorly and us all barely squeaking through as a result.

If they don't plug that emergency spillway issue it could still turn into catastrophe, it seems.

DMT
WBraun

climber
Feb 13, 2017 - 08:44am PT
Nice analysis Dingus and to the point.

I feared for all those people's property they had to evacuate if that emergency spillway broke down ......
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
Feb 13, 2017 - 08:50am PT
madamimadam
and i'm not very wise
eveneve
said it rolling her eyes
--mfm
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 13, 2017 - 08:51am PT
ALL dams in California are "flood control" dams, it is the only way they get federal financing. Flood control dams are usually operated at levels far below their capacity.

ALL dams in California have contracts with water users generating the majority of the revenue for the dams. These contracts are multiyear so the probability of low runoff years has to be folded into the operations.

Environmental regulations require specific flow rates along the rivers.

Current California climate varies from the historic period (generally 1910-1960) that was the basis for the dam design and operation.

To the extent that the dam operators are "rolling the dice with lady luck," an important mitigation is regional forecasting on the decadal scale which is built on our climate modeling capabilities. Important not only for informing the operation of the dams, but also in deciding what future projects are economically viable.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Feb 13, 2017 - 08:51am PT
Read the book "The Emerald Mile" for some perspective.
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 13, 2017 - 08:54am PT
To the extent that the dam operators are "rolling the dice with lady luck," an important mitigation is regional forecasting on the decadal scale which is built on our climate modeling capabilities.

Yes. The various dam operators have been doing this for decades, and getting better at it I'd assume, as time goes on. Orland Bartholomew was a water gauger for DWR, back in the 1940s. They strove for the same balancing act back then too.

But the fact remains: Lake Oroville is FILLED and its filled in mid-Feb with more storms on the way. Climate modeling capabilities are irrelevant right now and became irrelevant when the hammer of god came down and the dam operators didn't let enough water out.

If the operations guide allowed this situation, which I doubt, then the guide was wrong.

Reference point: they didn't let the lake fill to the emergency spillway line back in storm of '97 when the outflows from the lake were at 160,000 cfs (they're at 100,000_ cfs right now over the damaged normal spillway)

DMT
kingtut

Social climber
carmel, ca
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:05am PT
The good news is that the main Dam (907 feet!) is theoretically safe. The main DWR guy said that the emergency spillway is designed to let out up to 700,000 CFS (the Biblical Flood) and the main Dam would remain intact.

The bad news is that he said it would "devastate the entire Central Valley of CA if that happened (lol) but the dam would be safe..."

This is of course only true if there is real bed rock beneath the emergency spillway to give it some integrity in the event of failure of the main structure. Currently the problem is erosion of the earth supporting it from flow around it and I haven't heard anyone say that they know whether or not it can dig even deeper than that if it fails releasing even more water.

~200,000 evacuated as if the emergency spillway fails then a 30' high wall of water moving hundreds of thousands of CFS goes through Oroville like its not even there.
locker

climber
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:12am PT


What many here are forgetting...

It's ALL a part of GOD's plan...

So just PRAY and all will be fine...




and I'd like a cool red Tonka Toy for Christmas, Santa...
Happiegrrrl2

Trad climber
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:13am PT
"Devestate the entire Central Valley" - What does that mean? Will farming lands be unable to produce for the season? Fruit/Nut trees bee killed? Good Old Erosion reducing trees swept away? Cities/towns/rural lands flooded to the point of catastrophic level? Roadways and bridges washed away????
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:15am PT
Yes

DMT
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:20am PT
here's an interesting link

http://www.water.ca.gov/orovillerelicensing/docs/FEIR_080722/AppendixA/Extracted_Comments/N0007_SierraClub_FriendsRiver_SYRCL_Pages_3-53.pdf
John M

climber
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:21am PT
Its been light for more then 3 hours. Has anyone seen pics of the recent situation? I can't find anything. The news reporting on this has been atrocious. They keep saying the dam could fail, and then they back up a bit and say.. oh. but just the emergency spillway.

Plus some keep saying its a boil, but my understanding from the levies is a boil is when water is seeping through or under the levy and its my understanding that the water was flowing over the emergency spillway and eroding near the base. Erosion that was dangerous, but still not a boil.

Has anyone seen pics from this morning? Everything that I have seen is yesterdays pics.
rick sumner

Trad climber
reno, nevada/ wasilla alaska
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:21am PT
1862-It happens on average every 100 years. Nothing abnormal per the long term climate history of the west coast. If rationalists were in charge of flood protection/water usage then more dams would have been built and the existing ones scrupously maintained along with the population explosion of the golden state.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:23am PT
http://www.kcra.com/
WBraun

climber
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:23am PT
There's only so much money for everything to go around and politics play a huge part of it especially when;

The US manufactures so many bullsh!t phony wars to divert a lot of money to the Defense industry.

It's ultimately your faults for being soo stoopid to constantly letting this happen and still going on as we speak .....
kingtut

Social climber
carmel, ca
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:25am PT
"Devastate the entire Central Valley" - What does that mean? Will farming lands be unable to produce for the season? Fruit/Nut trees bee killed? Good Old Erosion reducing trees swept away? Cities/towns/rural lands flooded to the point of catastrophic level? Roadways and bridges washed away????

Yep.

So a little more background as I understand it.

the 700,000 CFS number would have to originate upstream from catastrophic melting of the snow pack. The DWR guy was saying (as I understood him) that overall the Dam was safe in that eventuality.

Of course, if conditions are such to create that at Oroville then the entire Valley turns into a lake with true biblical devastation regardless.

The caveat at Oroville is that the integrity of the earthen hillside of the emergency spillway is questionable which is why they think it could have failed with a relatively tiny amount of water going over it (I think I heard just ~12k CFS). How that affects the end of the Dam in that area no one is saying.

Lost in all of this is corporate interests that control the use of the water not wanting to spend (via more expensive water) to create a safer emergency spillway (amortized over the 50 years it has taken for it to be needed). Instead, the costs of evacuating ~200,000 people due to a cheese ass emergency spillway is born by the suckers at the foot of the dam and nearby communities.

Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:26am PT
It's ultimately your faults for being soo stoopid...

you don't have any role in this, of course, except to be a public scold...
kingtut

Social climber
carmel, ca
Feb 13, 2017 - 09:27am PT
Has anyone seen pics from this morning? Everything that I have seen is yesterdays pics.


http://www.kcra.com/nowcast

Has live video.
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