Finance Letter

Here’s our Saturday morning update on flood control issues in the Central Valley and beyond. Things have been quieter this week at Oroville Dam, but there’s plenty to report on from around the state.

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Here’s a recap of the last couple of days in the flood protection world:

  1. At Oroville on Thursday, DWR was reducing outlflow from the principal spillway down to 50,000 cfs to facilitate removal of debris from the diversion pool, and that outflow continued through at least Friday night. The lake level was down to about 848 feet, so there appears to be ample storage for water in the facility. Moreover, anticipated precipitation totals through Monday are relatively low (see graphic below). So it appears unlikely that the lake level will rise significantly over the next few days, as crews continue to armor the emergency spillway in the event it needs to be used again this season. See also here for an archival documentary with footage from the 60’s (and narration to match) showing the construction of the dam.

PRecip forecst

  1. The Legislature has begun to talk about funding for flood protection around the Central Valley, and there will be a Senate oversight hearing next week on the causes and responses to the Oroville Dam situation. Read more on these efforts here. Some entities, including Reclamation District 1001 and the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency, have been diligently working to address current high water conditions on Feather River levees as well as the possibility of another emergency situation at Oroville. Here’s a news story with videos and interviews related to these efforts.
  1. The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch for the Northern San Joaquin Valley and the Delta (see graphic below). Earlier in the week we saw evacuations in Manteca due to a breach of a rural levee (see story here).

Flash flood

  1. In San Jose earlier this week, nearly 14,000 residents were ordered to evacuate due to flooding from Coyote Creek. The creek is dammed upstream at Anderson Lake, which overflowed for the first time in a decade and has been wreaking havoc for residents downstream. See here for the latest from the San Jose Mercury News. This is another dam facility in need of basic structural repairs – it is not seismically sound and could fail in a large earthquake. The Santa Clara Valley Water District released some information about this concern earlier this month – see here.  But the coolest thing may be this drone footage of San Jose.

5.  As a follow-up to two Emergency Proclamations in January and February due to storm damage across the state, at a press conference on Friday, February 24, 2017, Governor Brown announced actions his Administration would be taking to secure funding for emergency levee repairs and dam safety. The Governor released a 4-point plan that includes investing $437 million in near-term flood control and emergency response actions to supplement prior investments.  He sent a letter to Chairs of the Legislative Budget Committees notifying them that he is using his emergency powers to redirect existing appropriations of $50 million and is requesting a $387.1 million appropriation from Prop. 1 to implement flood control projects, including emergency levee repairs in the Central Valley and Delta.

For more detailed information about current storage, inflow, and outflow from Oroville Dam, we still recommend the California Data Exchange Center. Additional sources of information on this incident can be found on the DWR website and DWR has shared this phone number for public updates: 530-872-5951.

That’s it for today. Please check back as we continue to update you on how the system is doing. And stay dry!