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California’s Oroville Dam Emergency Continues

California’s Oroville Dam Emergency Continues

While 2009 Stimulus Package monies went to unions, concerns over dam’s infrastructure was ignored.

Shortly after I blogged that the Oroville Dam used its emergency spillway for first time in its nearly 50-year history, as water topped its capacity, emergency evacuation orders to Californians in the valley areas below were given.

Those evacuation orders are still in effect:

A day after 188,000 people were evacuated from the towns surrounding northern California’s Oroville Dam, officials sounded a note of cautious optimism about containing the threat of flooding.

Still, the mandatory evacuation order remained in place Monday for Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties.

The evacuation was initially ordered Sunday after a massive erosion hole was discovered in an emergency spillway, which catches excess water when Lake Oroville’s water level rises to overflow the dam, threatening communities downstream.

…Butte County Sheriff Kony Honea defended the decision to evacuate, saying the “dynamic” situation required a quick response.

“We did this because our primary purpose is to ensure public safety,” he said in a Monday news conference.

In my earlier post, many commenters remarked that President Trump should deny disaster relief funding requested by Governor Jerry Brown. However, that would be punishing the very people who voted for Trump in the presidential election and have been most active in trying to fight Sacramento’s extreme liberal policies. Here are how the three counties voted in 2016:

My favorite suggestion was to have President Trump tour the disaster area, with Governor Brown in tow. Trump could also bring a van of supplies, like he did for Louisiana. This approach has the benefit of directly aiding his supporters, while forcing Brown to admit that ignoring water infrastructure while chasing his high-speed train legacy was…unwise.

However, the aid must come with conditions. California leaders must be forced to redirect tax revenue originally slated for illegal aliens to the hard-working citizens of the state. Clearly, one of the contributing factors in the Oroville Dam emergency is that the red-areas of California are being punished for not supporting Democratic politicians.

California-based reporter Katy Grimes summarizes some of the Golden State political proposals designed to benefit the immigrants who are likely, then, to vote in more Democrats.

Democrat Leftists in the State Legislature are proposing providing in-state tuition for refugees, yet too many working class families cannot afford to send their kids to California colleges and universities.

These same legislative leftists have proposed a bill to use taxpayer money to fund beach vacations for the poor. AB 250, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), requires the California Coastal Conservancy, the state agency in charge of preserving California’s 840 miles of coastline, to develop a “Low Cost Overnight Accommodations Program” for the poor, because “visiting on the coast has become prohibitively expensive for many Californians.”

These same leftist lawmakers have a package of bills to provide lawyers and public defenders to illegal aliens facing deportation. One of the bills in the package requires taxpayers to pay for the legal defense of illegal aliens.

Perhaps the Californians fleeing the dam site can head on over to the cheap beach house they paid for with their tax dollars?

Trump must get a team to go through California’s accounts, and force the state fund as much of the repair and recovery as it can before he authorizes the federal government to pay a penny. Then, Trump can use some federal monies now going to progressive entities (e.g., Planned Parenthood, NPR) to make up the difference.

Recall that Obama’s Stimulus Package, which inspired many to join the Tea Party movement, was suppose to be used on crumbling infrastructure. As we Tea Party participants expected, that policy was a complete farce:

So where did all that sweet stimulus money go? Of the money spent in swing state Wisconsin, 80 percent went to public sector unions – those with already locked-in jobs. In fact, right-to-work states got $266 less per person in stimulus money than heavily unionized states. Where Democrats had a vast majority of representatives, their states got $460 per person more.

Reports of structural concerns over the Oroville Dam’s spillway stretch back 12 years. So, Obama’s tried to buy Wisconsin for the Democrats (which failed), and as a result, there was no money to strengthen the structure. I assert that the current emergency is an exquisite symbol of Obama’s entire legacy.

President Trump has an opportunity to build a solid legacy for himself, by forcing California’s politicians to make policy choices that serve the citizens of the state for generations to come. In other words, he can use the Orville Dam emergency to “make California American again”.

Meanwhile, our prayers go out to the people in the region, that the emergency is resolved quickly and everyone and their animals get back home safely.


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“evacuation orders are still in effect” – & will remain so. Anybody who thinks Oroville Dam will be made “safe” in the next few days, weeks or months ignores reality. Earth moving takes time, and since CA got out of the earth moving business in the ’60s, it will take a long time.

    great unknown in reply to Icepilot. | February 14, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    As long as it should take, it will take much longer, with lawsuits being filed demanding environmental-impact studies.

    It’s a shame they couldn’t divert the water directly into Sacramento.

      I thought that the environmentalists (Sierra Club, etc) were the ones asking for reinforcement of the aux spillway 10-12 years ago and the CA dept of Water Resources and others nixed it because they didn’t want to spend the money.

      This is one case where the greenies were correct.

        snopercod in reply to Liz. | February 14, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        This is one case where the greenies were correct.

        Let’s not forget that their only goal was to kill the dam in any way they could. They just got lucky this time.

    Subotai Bahadur in reply to Icepilot. | February 14, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    It is worse than that. Besides the lack of physical capability, trained staff, and engineering expertise cited; there is the matter that this is not the only crisis they face.

    Last night, I heard that there are at least two more dams within a couple of feet of topping the spillways. A couple of days rain [starting tomorrow] will take care of that. Since there is a generations long culture of neglect for maintenance [not only in California. Here in Colorado, Cherry Creek dam is shaky at best and if it goes will take out Colorado’s third largest city plus some suburbs] of infrastructure, it is a fair assumption that at least one of those spillways will fail too.

    It is a good thing, that as they assured us a week or so ago, that California can prosper without any Federal aid.

      Victor Davis Hanson has written about the “forgotten” California that had long term plans for water management including how best to store water for the dry times. The monies for these projects were re-routed to other uses as in… say… converting California into a one party workers’ paradise. One would think that for the devout believers in “climate change” that enhancing water stores would be a great thing… but high speed rail service for the unions and cultivating California as the new Venezuela took precedent.

      I agree with Trump directing the government to help now… but with a heady price tag after this crisis passes.

        Our conversion to an hispanic government here in California had some hidden costs as well, and those ongoing costs are accelerating and accumulating.

        Tom Servo in reply to alaskabob. | February 14, 2017 at 5:01 pm

        I’ve read that fear of “climate change” really did have an impact on this crisis; apparently the system operators were convinced this rain was a one time event, and that drought would return and they’d need as much water as they could hold. So, they waited to start dumping water from Lake Oroville far longer than was prudent.

          snopercod in reply to Tom Servo. | February 14, 2017 at 7:21 pm

          I’d bet they delayed releasing the water in order to protect some fish or another downstream.

          Snopercod – actually, I saw a report that they were taking the salmon out of the fishery ponds downstream since the water was starting to be muddy. So, they saved a bunch of little salmons but ruined how many homes?

      We can do anything here in California, although we may have to delay launching our own climate-change-proving satellite.

Maybe Jerry Brown will slobber all over Trump like Christie did to Obama.

They thought the drought was a progressive condition, they waited, they were wrong. It is chaotic, recurring at irregular schedules.

This article suspiciously omits the plight and opinion of the snail darter.

buckeyeminuteman | February 14, 2017 at 3:23 pm

I agree. Tour the affected area with Moonbeam in tow. Be sure to get lots of pictures of him kissing Trump’s arse while doing so. Then authorize the funds, no need to hurt innocent people in the process. However as a condition of receiving the funds, the swamp that is the state-level EPA of California must be drained.

    CloseTheFed in reply to buckeyeminuteman. | February 14, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I’m actually surprised Trump hasn’t already been out there. Really surprised.

      He commented on the issue, was in contact with the CA officials. As far as I am concerned, he should stay away for a few days to let the locals get control of the situation, especially if there is more rain on the way.

      I know a lot of people criticized Bush for not showing up at NOLA right away, but the initial purpose was rescue, then recovery. Having a President travel around in a disaster zone can conflict with the rescue portion. If I remember correctly, Bush was also in contact before Katrina struck, trying to get the locals to ask for help.

      There is a connection with Katrina and Oroville – maintenance was not done. If I remember correctly, they sent Corps of Engineer money to do upkeep and improvements of the levee and pumping system, but the $$$ were moved to other projects.

With 7 straight days of raid expected in the next few days the danger at this dam is not over.

That phony stimulus “just under a trillion dollars” was an astonishing early fraud on American working men and women. We should never forget what a crook obama was as president.

    dmi60ex in reply to Rick. | February 14, 2017 at 4:44 pm

    And the fact that thru shenanigans on the budget , Obama got to re spend it each year . Thanks , Ryan , Boehner and McConnell . It is why our deficit exploded by 9 trillion during his tenure.

Hmmm. This is just a thought. Is there a Trump guy running FEMA yet?

2nd Ammendment Mother | February 14, 2017 at 4:00 pm

I’d want to see a large number of strings placed on that money and an Inspector General to oversee the job. Seems like relief funds frequently end up being spent everywhere except where they are supposed to go.

    I hope that if there are any funds to deal with these costs that it is subtracted from the amount that Brown requested from the future infrastructure funding.

    From an accountant’s POV, disbursements should be based on presentation of invoices for work done. There are standards construction industry forms. And there should be no charges for “administration or overhead”. They have a department of water resources who should have been watching & maintaining the dams. Pay for materials.

An interesting thought exercise could put many unemployed skilled workers back to work.

Use California union pension plans to fix it, otherwise screw them.

I hope those people have dam flood insurance.

I remember complaints about people getting flood assistance when there was substantial damage from a Mississippi River flood. Complaints were about paying for people knowing that they were living in a flood zone and that they should move away from the area. Will we hear the same criticisms about people living below a dam?

    murkyv in reply to Liz. | February 14, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    I’ve been making water run downhill in a controlled fashion for 40+ years. (Yes, I’m a ditchdigger on a site full of lawyers)

    Couldn’t pay me to live below a dam or in a floodplain, regardless it it’s not designated as such

    I’ve seen people build in stupid, stupid places and watched them fight the elements.

ComboverAsMetaphor | February 14, 2017 at 4:45 pm

Meanwhile Louisiana’s shoreline is disappearing at at rate of a football field an hour. AN HOUR! It will be a lot easier to fix the dams than to restore southern Louisiana.

I am sure you can spin both disasters in order to blame democrats. But you should conserve your angular momentum. You are going to be doing an awful lot of spinning in the next couple of years.

    There have been several good books written that cover what’s going on in South Louisiana. (my wife’s an La. girl, and I get over there quite a bit, crazy about cajun food) The best one for my money is “Rising Tide” by John Barry. It tells the story of the greatest (and most forgotten) natural disaster the US ever suffered, the great 1927 flood. That’s not hyperbole; over 1 million homes were flooded at a time when population was maybe 1/3 of what it is today.

    Basically, south Louisiana is a constantly sinking basin; that’s why the Mississippi flows there. It is sinking at roughly about a foot every century; it has always sunk at that rate. Before 1928, the Mississippi was allowed to flood every spring, and these floods dropped new sediment on top of all of the floodlands, counteracting the effect of the land sinking, and keeping the system in balance. (kind of amazing how nature does that) In response to the Flood of ’27, Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1928, which controlled and channelized the Mississippi. This worked to end the floods, but it caused all of the silt which used to bolster the swamplands to instead be swept quickly out into the deep gulf and be lost.

    The Flood Control Act of 1928 was well intentioned, and succeeded in guaranteeing that a hugely destructive flood never devastated the center of the country again. The act also guaranteed that the vast majority of South Louisiana will be lost to the sea by the turn of the next century.

    How could this be stopped? Move all of the people out and let the Mississippi flood the area every spring again. Easy to say, virtually impossible to do.

      The insanity can also be seen at barrier islands and beaches on the east coast. There are hurricanes and storms that will change wave patterns causing beach erosion and other events. And they still build on the beaches, pave the islands and wonder why there are floods and their houses get destroyed.

      Or lack of proper forest management and then wonder about why the fires are so massive. The list just goes on.

      ComboverAsMetaphor in reply to Tom Servo. | February 15, 2017 at 9:34 am

      I am well aware of the history and also that blacks were disproportionately required to take the hit in 1927. You also ignored the effects of channelization and other activities by the oil and gas industry.

      But ultimately you response is a rationalization. Lots of things, short of a complete evacuation, can delay the effects or mitigate the damage. But republican governments have chosen to do none of that. It is much easier to complain about democrats in CA.

      BTW, as the author points out, the problem in CA was known 12 years ago under a republican administration. 3 environmental groups sued to force repairs. But the feds and the state fought against a fix because they didn’t want to spend the money.

      Why does everything need to be a political football? Both issues, and many more, need to be addressed – and can be under Trump’s ‘infrastructure’ campaign promise.

      I am also sure that some politically conservative group will be blaming climate change on liberals or nature in 50-75 years.

We could fill the hole with those dem politicians….although the environment might take a hit.

Good post. I’m afraid many out-of-staters like to think of California as monolithically lefty, but the outnumbered residents of the interior of the state know better.

    If you ever seen a graphic of the red/blue state voting pattern, you do realize that there are conservative sections of CA as well as OR and WA.

    The sad part is that CA changed voting rules to make it easy for the top two candidates to go onto the final election instead of having the ability to have candidates for each party. I think there were a lot of voters on the west coast that didn’t vote since they were all Ds on the ticket.

    alaskabob in reply to melanerpes. | February 14, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    First they get the water stolen from them and then they get flooded. Anyone for refilling Mono Lake this time around?

Why didn’t they all get out of town on Jerry Brown’s high speed railway?

Seven years ago, California approved a project dedicating $9.5 Billion state tax dollars with a commitment by Pres. Obama of Federal tax dollars to construct a high speed “Bullet Train” system. The cost to complete is now low-balled at $68 Billion up from an original $33 Billion. As of December 2016, Californians are on the hook for $15 Billion of spent funds up and above the original $9.5 Billion and were recently denied a Federal Loan as well as a Performance Continuance Extension by our new administrations. To date they have received Federal Funding of $3.5 Billion due to delayed construction start. In seven years they have yet to lay down one mile of a 700 mile track system. It appears Democrat controlled California and New York States Republican Counties suffer the neglect in much the same way if you compare the consideration given the neglect of California Upstate Oroville in a rural Republican Butte County and the neglect suffered in Upstate New York Hoosick Falls in Republican Rennsalear County

Leslie Eastman: Reports of structural concerns over the Oroville Dam’s spillway stretch back 12 years.

To be clear, it was citizen-groups, including the Sierra Club, that filed a motion with the Bush Administration, but were rebuffed in their efforts.

    Last time I checked, the dam was state built, state owned, state operated, and the state reaps the benefits from it. Why is it the feds’ responsibility to maintain it? What has Sacramento been doing all this time?

      Ichneumon: Why is it the feds’ responsibility to maintain it?

      It’s a joint state-federal responsibility. In 2005, when citizen-groups pushed for improvements, the Republican state administration determined there was no need at the time. To be fair, fixing potholes is rarely politically advantageous.

Well, looking at the spillway, and where the hole is… I do not see an immediate risk to the dam itself.
And the water going over the edge there… near as I can tell… is still gonna run pretty much down-hill….
So… there is no emergency, other than possibly missing a grab at Federal dollars.