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DWR: Oroville Dam’s Main Spillway is Ready for the Rainy Season

OROVILLE -- Wednesday, the Department of Water Resources announced that it met its Nov. 1 deadline to finish Phase 1 of repairs at the nation's tallest dam.

The progress on the main spillway has come a long way since early February when rushing water and a cracked spillway prompted communities to evacuate in fear.

"It's a phenomenal amount of work that's been accomplished," said Jeff Peterson, vice president with Kiewit, the main contractors tasked with fixing the spillways.

Peterson says a crew of 600 worked to get the spillway ready for rain.

Oroville Mayor Linda Dahlmeier says the panic and fear of evacuating is still fresh in residents' minds.

In early February, nearly 200,000 people were forced to evacuate due to fears of widespread flooding.

The DWR says what happened in Oroville is serving as a lesson throughout the state and the country.

"DWR plans to take everything we can from this incident, learn from it and make improvements to our systems," said Erin Mellon, assistant director of public affairs for DWR.

Work on the Oroville Dam's spillways will cost about $500 million.

That's about double the original estimate.

DWR says that's common for construction projects of this size.

DWR is hoping FEMA will cover 75 percent of the cost of construction.

Work on both spillways is expected to be completed by January 2019.