The Oroville dam situation (which started mid February, 2017) is a shining example of how we cannot rely even on local media/officialdom to level with the populous (that's us) regarding developing situations -- and we can rely even less on the national news outlets to responsibly and accurately report on anything, but particularly when it comes to what they view as potential problems or severe issues (such as Fukushima).
Listen to the audio version here:
Let me cut to the chase: We MUST incorporate news from alternative sources into our thought process and research regarding ALL subjects; then we must make our own judgement call, and act accordingly. If we choose to allow mainstream media outlets to be the only source of information we consume, we will end up with an inaccurate assessment of the given situation. Period.
On a side note, this is one reason we began our Emergency Alert System and started the Prepare Alerts App -- to help keep the Omega family ahead of the media and thereby ahead of the general population. Consider signing up.
Back to Oroville. The problem with the Oroville Dam came to my attention on February 8th, 2017, when it was reported by YouTubers that a 30' wide hole had opened in the concrete "operational" spillway. Chunks of concrete were being blasted 20' in the air by the water that was blazing through there, further eroding the damaged spillway, making quite a sight and concerning those who saw and subsequently reported on it.
(The "operational" spillway is pictured below, to the right of the blue line, it's a long concrete chute down which water spills to empty the dam during normal operation.)
Notice the comical title of this infographic: "...WILL NOT collapse." -- as if anyone can say that with certainty. It's laughable. Like NASA saying "we're not going to be threatened by an asteroid for at least 30 years" when they damn well know that only 10% of all Near Earth Objects (NEOs) have been mapped, but I digress.
So here's MY thinking as of February 8th:
- A hole forms in the spillway of the tallest dam in the country.
- The resevoir is at 98% capacity and growing.
- Water must be released to relieve pressure.
- ..but they've shut down the water release to stop damaging the spillway.
- So in MY mind: the dam is filling, it's damaged, and we have a severe problem.
If I were the media, it'd be time to say "If you live in a threatened area, it's time to start paying close attention and making contingency plans -- at the very least!
But that's not what happened.
The dam engineers had shut off the flow of water to prevent damage, but quickly realized -- due to the rising water level -- that they had to continue to allow water out of the dam somehow or it would clearly overflow (which it did later), so they did release water over the damaged spillway a highly decreased rate of 20,000 gallons per second.
Even at this decreased rate, the 30' hole quickly turned into a 60' hole by February 9th.
When the hole grew to 60' in width (pictured below), I texted a friend who lives near Sacremento. Quite close to Oroville. I asked her if she'd heard anything on the local news about this dam. "Nothing" was her reply. "Nothing."
There were not even regional news stories to be found about the dam, even on the 9th of February, 2017. The alternative media sources were the only sources reporting on this impending disaster -- Youtubers and online communities talking on blogs.
By February 10th, personnel realized they had to reduce the resevoir level or risk the water cresting the emergency spillway, so they started releasing 50,000 gallons per second or half it's full capacity. You can see the damage from that pictured above right as it escaped the concrete chute and started eroding the land.
Still, there was no regional reporting. I'm sure they covered it locally in oroville, because there's no way it could be ignored by locals at this point because people could actually see the damage -- however, I could not find this reporting via the web.
On February 11th, the emergency spillway, an earthen dam with structured concrete below it (pictured left below), began to overflow -- you can see the operational spillway to the right in the picture below. Notice the washed out road. Clearly, this is officially an emergency now, because is the emergency spill way is a built in fail-safe put in place by the original engineers back in 1968 and it had never been activated.
The resevoir was at 101% capacity at this point. There was severe erosion taking place below the emergency spillway, weakening it, and the operational spillway was already severely damaged. At this point, someone working with the engineers (who must have been turns sucking their thumbs in the fetal position), someone must have said something like "If we don't release some serious pressure, the dam is going to fail."
Finally, on the 12th, they accepted the situation and opened the operational spillway to twice it's normal flow rate, or 100,000 gallons per second. Quite a sight. More damage ensued, naturally, but the resevoir level and pressure was reduced.
Now it's Sunday afternoon, the 12th of February, and what do you know, the media is in gear now. They're finally admitting there might be cause for concern.
What changed their minds? Likely the visual of the emergency spillway over flowing.
Back to my opening statemen: Officialdom will ONLY admit a problem when it can no longer be ignored or explained away. We will not be treated like adults.
It was the 13th of February when the evacuation order went out.
...and from my understanding, it was only due to the Butte County Sheriff who probably overheard things he shouldn't have heard regarding the severity of the situation. Being a real person, he ordered evacuation. Thank God for that man!
At this point, however, the roads are jammed, people are buying up local emergency supplies, and a sense of panic spreads.
By the time the mainstream media and officialdom admits there is an emergency, it's probably already too late to do anything about it, unfortunately.
As I think about it now, maybe it's a good thing for people like us the way media and officaldom acts -- it just gives people who really pay attention extra time to move around, get some last minute things in place, and do what we need to do before the rest of the population freaks out.
February 17th, 2017
Due to blasting out 100,000 gallons per second, destroying the operational spillway (which was the only thing they could have done and should have done from the very beginning), the resevoir level has dropped 25 feet and the crisis has been averted, for now. They've let everyone return to their homes and called the all clear.
Nevermind there is 7 days of rain projected starting on the 17th. The Sierra snowpack is the largest it's been in years and there's a warm snap coming.
May 15th, 2017
The re-construction/repairs are on-going, but very slow.
A lot of the activity has been simply making roads to access the areas that need to be repaired.
They've also apparently been doing a lot of blasting with explosives nearby to clear some of the damage and re-construct, which seems a little risky to me. I'd want to avoid seismic activity around a damaged dam.
Many of the dams upriver of Oroville (which is kind of at the "end" of the chain of mountain dams) are also at near capacity. If these upper dams would have to release their water to prevent danger/damage, the water will go to Oroville. There is still snowpack left to melt and rain patterns have been erratic. One big rain or melt could force the upper dams to release water to Oroville.
There are also reports that a specific area near the bottom of the dam has green grass unlike the rest, indicating to some that there is water working its way through the earthen part of the dam.
Check out this video of a dam failure experiment:
...more updates to come.