Update: City of Oroville Sues State Over '17 Dam Crisis

January 17, 2018

SFGate.com reports the California city of Oroville filed suit in Butte County Superior Court on Wednesday seeking unspecified monetary damages from California's Department of Water Resources to cover the costs the town incurred last February when a huge crater opened on the Oroville Dam's main spillway.

During record rainfall, water from Lake Oroville surged over a concrete barrier into an emergency spillway. As the water eroded the hillside below, officials feared Oroville would flood and ordered 188,000 residents to evacuate.

The lawsuit alleges the dam's managers ignored maintenance needs and condoned shoddy dam work for decades. An independent investigation of the event concluded "long-term and systemic failures" by dam's engineers, managers and regulators were to blame for the crisis. The 584-page report found both the DWR and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for inspecting all dams that generate electricity, had failed to recognize and address issues with the Oroville Dam before the February crisis.

Joseph Cotchett, lead attorney for the city, said Oroville's damages are in the millions of dollars. "This was not an act of God. This was not just a wild rainstorm. This went back 20 years of neglect."

The Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the country and was built in the 1960s. Repairs to the dam are being led by Kiewit Corp.

Read more about the City of Oroville's suit here: