Residents Express Concerns About Oroville Dam Spillway at Meeting

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YUBA CITY — With massive repairs underway to fix 2017’s massive problems on the spillways of the Oroville Dam, some of the biggest concerns among those who had to run from the flood threat are quite small.

They’re so small in one respect, that the point of a pen has to be used to point them out in photographs.

“We’ve documented everywhere we’ve seen them,” said Joel Ledesma, deputy director of the Department of Water Resources.

In another respect, those concerns are so big the state Department of Water Resources is being called out about them at yet another spillway recovery meeting.

The one Thursday night was in Yuba City.

“You just told us you saw the cracks in August and then you let the public know about them in November. I’m going to accept you know what you’re doing, but you promised to keep us informed and you did not,” said Frank Coates.

“Everything’s what we planned for and expect and everything’s going right… you’re right we don’t necessarily feel the need to do a press conference about it,” said DWR spokesperson Erin Mellon.

The DWR has said repeatedly the small cracks were expected as part of the normal concrete curing process — a more cosmetic concern.

“We could have had a spillway with no cracks, but to do that we would have to lower the integrity, have less strength in the concrete, less anchoring and less rebar, and we wouldn’t want to do that,” she said.

From solid concrete concerns to shifting sediment, folks around Yuba City are also upset about silt now in the Feather River  from the rapid raising and lowering of water levels throughout 2017.

That sediment has closed boat ramps and shut down guided fishing businesses, scattering employees.

“I got two in Alaska, two in Oregon, two out of work and the others are doing other things because we can’t work,” shouted James Stone, the owner of Elite Sportsman Guide Services.

Karen Liggett is one of many who came to the meeting who are trying to process the facts of the situation, but it’s hard to let go of the fear.

That fear means she’s ready right now if almost 200,000 people have to evacuate again.

“I got my food, my sleeping bags, blankets, clothes. Everything I need ready to go,” she said.

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