Human Error Played a Role in Oroville Dam Spillway Failure, Investigation Finds

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Complacency, bureaucracy and an inadequate safety culture led to the failure last year of the Oroville Dam spillway, according to an independent investigation report released Friday.

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

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

The findings point to human error by a number of organizations but say that the dam’s owner, the California Department of Water Resources, was “significantly overconfident and complacent about the integrity of its State Water Project civil infrastructure, including dams.”

It describes the department as an “insular organization which inhibited accessing industry knowledge and developing needed technical expertise.” Within the department, the engineering division clashed with the operations and maintenance staff, resulting in a “lack of mutual respect,” it found.

There was a belief inside the department that became “mythologized” over the decades that it built the state’s water delivery system with the “best of the best” experts, the report said. But the reality was quite different.

Read the full story on LATimes.com

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