Butte County Supervisor had Concerns About Oroville Dam Spillway for Years

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OROVILLE-- At the Oroville Dam water continuously rushes down the main spillway and into the Feather River, despite a huge hole in the concrete.

This as crews have spent days scrambling to plug up and prevent erosion at the emergency spillway.

While many in California are just learning about the issue, some leaders in Butte County have been concerned for years.

"We've been kind of going on about that for a while, trying to get attention, to kind of deaf ears almost," said Butte County supervisor Steve Lambert.

Lambert says he and some of his colleagues have been frustrated about the lack of maintenance on the nation's tallest damn.

"We feel like you have not taken care of this dam, which is in our backyard, which is a safety risk for us," Lambert said.

Sunday that safety risk intensified when nearly 200,000 people in Oroville and nearby communities evacuated in a hurry after a huge hole was found in the emergency spillway.

"I think with the failure it just adds to what we've been saying, 'hey listen you really don't take care of your dam,'" Lambert said.

Butte County is now feeling a strain.

Businesses closed for days and resources are still being dedicated to the spillway emergency.

"All of our resources are being used on that right now," Lambert said. "That's not paid by the state, that's paid by tax payers in Butte County."

But perhaps the biggest issue for Butte County is the fact that the dam has been operating on temporary licenses for a decade after its 50 year license expired in 2007.

"We're hoping now there's enough people seeing this going, 'yeah, you're right you're not getting a fair shake up there, you're kind of an impoverished area,'" Lambert said.

Lambert says a license would help provide money to offset the millions of dollars the county spends on the dam each year.

FOX40 reached out to the Department of Water Resources for comment.

A spokesperson told us the dam and spillway are inspected multiple times a year and that they did not go unattended.