For years environmental groups warned state and federal authorities that Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway was a potential hazard, and needed to be repaired immediately.
However, that plea was rejected, according a story in the San Jose Mercury News, because water agencies around the state, including the Kern County Water Agency, didn’t want to pay for the improvements. In 2005, the environmental groups filed a motion with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, that Oroville Dam’s spillway could become overwhelmed in a large rain event, forcing water over the earthen emergency spillway, which would be susceptible to erosion damage.
FERC rejected that request, however, after the state Department of Water Resources, and the water agencies that would likely have had to pay the bill for the upgrades, said they were unnecessary. Those agencies included the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to 19 million people in Los Angeles, San Diego and other areas, along with the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 agencies that buy water from the state of California through the State Water Project. The association includes the Metropolitan Water District, Kern County Water Agency, the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Alameda County Water District.
Here are other links to the crisis: