Damaged Oroville Dam Spillway May Need to Be Used by Next Week, State Officials Say

An eroded section of the Oroville Dam spillway is seen in this image provided by the California Department of Water Resources.

A damaged flood control spillway at the Oroville Dam may have to be used as early as next week as storm runoff and snowmelt continue to fill the massive reservoir on the Feather River, state water officials said.

The spillway has been dry since Feb. 27, when engineers with the Department of Water Resources rapidly reduced the flow of water down the concrete chute from 50,000 cubic feet per second to zero so they could repair the spillway and restart a nearby hydroelectric plant.

But since that shutdown, the water level in the reservoir has climbed 21 feet, even though the power station began operating last week. The reservoir’s water level was at 860 feet Friday, 40 feet below capacity and only 5 feet shy of the threshold at which engineers have said they’ll want to use the spillway again.

But using the spillway in its current state carries risks, officials said.

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