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    Oroville Dam Threatens To Collapse

    Short-term thinking has put lives at risk
    by Chris Martenson

    Monday, February 13, 2017, 12:51 PM

This is a running commentary on the rapidly developing Oroville dam situation in California. Because the story is so fluid right now, there isn’t yet time to write a complete report.

I’ll have a tidy summary at some point, but first we have to scour and assemble the information.

The reason we cover such situations in detail as they develop is because we feel we can do a better job of condensing and presenting complex and rapid information than the mainstream news. We don’t sensationalize, we strive to use grounded facts every time, and we think such situations offer a learning moment to help orient us to the realities of the world in which we live, as well as how we should think about preparing and being prepared.

The bottom line is that the US has many poorly-maintained dams, bridges, water works and other key infrastructure. Even worse, we’ve built many of these structures using a form of concrete with re-bar for tensile reinforcement that will necessitate virtually 100% replacement of all concrete structures within 40 to 100 years of being built.  Here's a previous report I wrote explaining this concrete situation in more detail.

So in this respect, the Oroville dam is a signpost for past shortsighted decision-making that will ultimately require very large sums of money for future maintenance and repair. Expect to see an increasing number of emergency failure threats like this appear in the years to come.

 


February 12th 2017 –9:11 p.m.  (post #1)

This is a pretty shocking development. I'd been somewhat enjoying watching the spillway disgorge huge amounts of water, but apparently things took a turn for the worse.

THOUSANDS ORDERED TO EVACUATE AFTER OROVILLE DAM PREDICTED TO FAIL

OROVILLE, Calif. — Officials have ordered thousands of residents near the Oroville Dam to evacuate the area, saying a "hazardous situation is developing" after an emergency spillway severely eroded.

The Butte County Sheriff's Office says the emergency spillway could fail within an hour unleashing uncontrolled flood waters from Lake Oroville.

The department says people in downstream areas need to leave the area immediately. It says residents of Oroville, a town of 16,000 people, should head north toward Chico and that other cities should follow orders from their local law enforcement agencies.

A major dam failure is a very rare, and possibly symbolic thing to occur at this time.  Very much not "first world."

 


 

Sun, Feb 12, 2017 – 9:41pm

This was a very good piece of reporting by a private citizen…much better than Da Newz…which presumably didn't want to overly concern anyone…or something.

At any rate, another great reason to keep your go bags organized, even if that means having your most important affairs in one place where you can get to them quickly.

The major issue is that the Oroville dam has too much water behind it.  There are only three 'approved' ways for it to be released.  I've pulled these three images from the above video.

1) is the hydro plant at the base of the dam.  That has been shut down because of some sort of problem.

2) Is the concrete spillway.  That is severely compromised (see pictures below) and is in danger of failing.

3) Is the emergency spillway.  The problem there is that the water got high enough that it took an unapproved route there too…the unreinforced parking area is now spilling water.  

There are no good choices left for releasing additional water.   So the spillway may fail and the first, large modern dam in US history could fail.  Wild.

Here's the damage to the spillway that was there before the additional releases had to happen…they had noticed an already weak spot in the spillway was being badly eroded, stopped the flow briefly, and found this:

And in this next photo you can clearly see what happened when they had to continue releasing via the spillway to avoid losing the entire emergency spillway which was also being eroded badly at the base.

Oops. No good choices left here.

You can clearly see that the emergency spillway is eating its way up towards the earth that is holding the water in the dam back.  Bad choice.

But the emergency spillway is eroding badly both at the parking lot end and the far right side where emergency concrete was poured at the base of the emergency spillway just a day or two before the water topped it.

 


Sun, Feb 12, 2017 – 10:03pm

 

NBC now reporting that the spillway has failed.  I have not confirmed this via a second source yet.

This is not the same thing as the dam failing…but it's a step closer to that.

Hopefully the bedrock stops the process before failure. 

Here's the best (jargony, but seemingly knowledgeable and factual) account I've come across so far:

I have heard that the emergency spillway is eroding through cutback. This will be an evolutionary erosive failure. It will take some time for the cut back. Hopefully the erosion will be stopped at bedrock.

However, I fear that if the erosion of the emergency spillway, on the canted bedrock of the abutment communicates with the hydraulics of the principal spillway, this may result in a V notch failure.

This would be the most serious type of failure. I believe there to be a good chance of a loss of the gate structure on the left (facing downstream). I expect loss of rock and perhaps some of the weir of the emergency spillway.

The training wall between the emergency and the principal spillway is a likely place for failure of structure. I understand that significant releases, which will be uncontrolled will take place, the possibility of this becoming very serious does, indeed exist. I am sorry with all of my heart that this is taking place. This is one time that I want so deeply to be wrong. All of my best wishes are with you tonight.

Scott Cahill (update 1)

As I write the Oroville dam in California is eroding back toward a breach of the reservoir. I am a dam contractor. If you ever heard someone say "that dam contractor.." they may have been talking about me.

I have repaired hundreds of dams including ones like Oroville, which were in the process of failure. I know a lot about dams.

The spillway failure is a common type of failure, where phreatic, or surface water entered the spillway, migrating beneath the slabs. (A static element on a dynamic element, A hard element on a live element). The dam is hydrated and dehydrated as water levels rise and fall, moving, as soils swell from pressures and water mass. In times of high rain the phreatic surface (hydrated soils line) moves toward the surface, venting into the void so produced.

 

 

This creates a void. Moving water over the years has eroded soils from beneath the slab downstream and left a channel. Now, the spillway has been actuated in a high-flow event and the plates of the spillway have failed into the stream, scouring from beneath them. They will continue to fail as the water continues to flow. The hydraulic jump exacerbates this erosion.

If the flow continues for a long enough time, with sufficient velocity, the reservoir will be voided by the migration of the erosion to the pool (cut-back). I cannot tell if failure is imminent, from Ohio, but it is an unacceptable situation that has been allowed to develop. It is a case of pennies pinched producing dollars spent, perhaps tragedy.

 

What we can learn as a nation is the information that is being disseminated. Words chosen carefully, to not excite, to not scare. The issue, as it now stands is serious, life-threatening even. The officials, the owners reps, the media will tell us now, that there is nothing to be be frightened about – all under control (remember Katrina??).

We have, for so long, ignored the failing infrastructure of this great nation, Let us hope that a fatal failure is not necessary to get us to act. Past experience does not make me hopeful of that.

Oroville is 770' high, 6,920' long. It is one of the 20 largest dams in the world. If Oroville breaks, The city will be flooded.

Eight thousand three hundred and seventy five residents are at risk within the inundation zone. Two hundred thirty critical facilities in the city of Oroville are within the inundation zone, including; Eleven schools, twenty one day care and children service centers, fourteen elder care facilities, twenty six bridges will be lost, the airport, two fire stations, the government administration building, three law enforcement stations, the EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER (brilliant) Two waste water treatment plants, the jail, and the Hospital. (from the City of Oroville local hazard mitigation plan update May, 2013)

We are not talking about a river rising, where people have time to evacuate. We are talking about a wall of debris, mud, and water taking out a city, buildings, roads, bridges, life, in a horrible instant.

When will we, at last mandate proper maintenance and inspection of these high hazard and medium hazard dams? Why are we willing to suffer a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars to save a couple of dollars on proper and responsible dam safety and repairs?

Whatever you may hear, this is a significant event which could be horrible in its scope and its magnitude. Let us pray that it does not breach, and let us hope that, at last people are sufficiently concerned to act.

Scott Cahill (original) (Source)

 

 


Mon, Feb 13, 2017 – 6:47am

Here's the latest on the storms that are due to arrive with more rain for the Oroville catchment system:

DWR needs to lower the lake level by another 50 feet to prepare for the incoming storms.

They've got just a couple of days to do this.

I am not at all clear on how much water was arriving vs. leaving between the 11th and 12th, but it took almost exactly one day to reduce the level by 1 foot:

(Source)

If I lived anywhere downstream of that dam in a low lying spot I would be clearing out all of my stuff that I cared about.  

And, right now, I'd be driving very far away so I could find reasonable long-term living arrangements…I bet this isn't resolved for quite some time.  A week minimum, until they safely get past the rains and feel confident about the dam structure.  But possibly a lot longer (and that's assuming no "uncontrolled release" situation).

 


Mon, Feb 13, 2017 – 7:21am

[quote=rhare] [quote=cmartenson]

So the spillway may fail and the first, large modern dam in US history could fail.  

[/quote]

Not the first, depending on your definition of modern wink

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teton_Dam

[/quote]

You are right…I'll count that as a modern, major dam.  What a mess that was too.  

I loved these parts from the wiki article you linked, because I bet both dams will share this precise feature:

In 1973, when the dam was only half-built, but almost $5 million had already been spent on the project, large open fissures were encountered during excavation of the key trench near the right end of the dam, about 700 feet (210 m) from the canyon wall.

The two largest, near-vertical fissures trend generally east-west and extend more than 100 feet (30 m) below the bottom of the key trench. Some of the fissures are lined by calcite, and rubble fills others. Several voids, as much as 6 inches (15 cm) wide, were encountered 60 to 85 feet (18 to 26 m) below the ground surface beyond the right end of the dam and grout curtain.

The largest fissures were actually enterable caves. One of them was eleven feet (3.4 m) wide and a hundred feet (30 m) long. Another one was nine feet (2.7 m) wide in places and 190 feet (60 m) long. These were not grouted because they were beyond the keyway trench and beyond the area where the Bureau had decided grouting was required.

This necessitated using twice as much grouting as had been originally anticipated – 118,000 linear feet were used in total. Later, the report of a committee of the House of Representatives which investigated the dam's collapse felt that the discovery of the caves should have been sufficient for the Bureau of Reclamation to doubt its ability to fill them in with grout, but this did not happen: the Bureau continued to insist, even after the dam had failed, that the grouting was appropriate.

After the dam's collapse, debris clean-up began immediately and took the remainder of the summer. Rebuilding of damaged property continued for several years. Within a week after the disaster, President Gerald Ford requested a $200 million appropriation for initial payments for damages, without assigning responsibility for Teton Dam’s failure.

Yep, wouldn't want anyone from government being held responsible now would we?  You know accountability?  That's just for citizens, I guess.

Try having even a slight error on your tax forms during an audit, and you'll find out exactly how lenient the government can(not) be.  ūüôā

The shared feature on the Oroville and Teton dams will be a complete lack of assigned blame.  Plus poor construction/maintenance.

 


Monday, Feb 13th – 8:09 a.m.

The water is now apparently 2.5 feet below the emergency spillway level.  This is a good sign.  Water is dropping much more quickly now, so the inflows must be receding.

Now it's a race against the arrival of the next storms

 


Monday, Feb 13th – 9:37 a.m.

Speaking of the rainfall, here's the weather service's seven day forecast…andother 4 to 7 inches in the region(!).


 

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89 Comments

  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 5:49am

    #1
    dryam2000

    dryam2000

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 06 2009

    Posts: 255

    "Fake News"

    This situation did not develop overnight. ¬†I’ve been following this story very closely over the entire past week via the reporting of average folks posting on a precious metals website I follow. ¬† Yes, I have been following “Fake News” on a fairly obscure website…..call me a communist.¬† Many people have been saying the official narrative has differed greatly from reality. ¬†As recently as Sunday morning the officials were saying all is well & there’s no need for people to evacuate. ¬†Then, suddenly at 5pm on Sunday night they give the command to evacuate immediately as a complete dam collapse could be imminent. ¬†The past few days there have many reports of dam webcams being disabled, or being turned in directions away from the dam. ¬†My sense is the officials wanted to have as much control over the narrative as possible for unknown reasons. ¬†Bottom line, it does not pay to be reliant on the MSM¬†and the official narrative as this is as faked & contrived as anything else. ¬†
    Never a FB person, here’s a live video feed from one of the local news stations….
    https://www.facebook.com/KCRA3/videos/vb.115763581513/10155026580966514/
    Btw, my understanding is the evacuation is for over 200,000 people.  

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 6:20am

    Reply to #1

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4703

    I agree...this did not develop overnight...worse than fake

    dryam2000 wrote:

    This situation did not develop overnight. ¬†I’ve been following this story very closely over the entire past week via the reporting of average folks posting on a precious metals website I follow. ¬† Yes, I have been following “Fake News” on a fairly obscure website…..
    (…)
    Btw, my understanding is the evacuation is for over 200,000 people.  

    I totally agree, the situation did not develop overnight…what did develop overnight was the sudden announcement that things went from “no problems” to “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!”
    This is precisely what we saw with Fukushima as well. ¬†The lesson is that the government has this weird aversion to ‘freaking people out’ and so they routinely err so far in the other direction that they put people’s lives at risk.
    Which means we have to rely first and foremost on ourselves.
    I was not tracking this all that closely until yesterday, but I should have been.  Like most people, I was alert to the spillway overtopping but I had not dug into the particulars of that dam and what that might mean.
    Note that the video that I linked to first was tracking the situation very closely and well in advance. ¬†So, once again, citizen news is way better than MSM news that is so defective and context free it’s actually worse than fake.
    At least fake is obvious.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 6:48am

    #2

    Chris Martenson

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    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4703

    A flooding update

    From Reddit:

    A number of roads in the Oroville area are closed this morning due to flooding. Those commuting to Sacramento will need to take the I-5.
    Highway 99 is closed from Durham-Pentz road to south of Yuba City and Highway 70 is closed from Highway 149 to south of Yuba City.
    All roads below the Oroville spillway elevation in Oroville, Thermalito, Biggs, and Gridley south to the Butte County line are closed as well.
    If you are commuting south from the Chico area take highway 32 to I-5 south. Avoid roadways west of Chico typically used to access I-5 south as they are closed due to flooding. These roads included Sacramento Avenue, River Road, Ord Ferry Road, Aguas Frias Road, and Seven Mile Lane. We also want to remind you to leave extra time for commuting this morning as roadways will likely be crowded.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 6:51am

    #3

    Chris Martenson

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    Water levels dropping quickly...

    This is good news…

    Water levels are dropping rapidly. ¬†Now to see what the storms bring…

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 7:18am

    #4

    Chris Martenson

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    Posts: 4703

    Situation now looks stabilized

    Here’s the latest press conference (pulled from Reddit):

    Press conference notes:

    Water will continue to be discharged at 100,000 cfs and the goal is to lower the lake level 50′.

    If the emergency spillway failed a 30′ wall of water would flow out of the lake (as described by¬†/u/psykh85¬†earlier).

    List of areas under evacuation orders and number of people impacted.

    Sheriff says there has been no looting or shots fired reported to him or sheriffs he has spoken with. Prior to the evacuation there was a burglary that possibly caused those incorrect rumors.

    Evacuations are going to continue and law enforcement is in the evacuated areas to protect property.

    List of shelters open and their capacity status. More shelters will be opened as needed. Most hotels in area are full

    List of road closures in area and travel updates

    There is no more water going over the emergency spillway and the DWR has been effective at reducing the risk of a failure.

    DWR will need time to evaluate the situation to determine when it will be safe for people to return to evacuated areas.

    Local, state, and federal resources are working on the situation.

    Bill Croyle (DWR Director): We are to going to continue to discharge as much water as possible to prepare for rainfall later in the week. As we assess our infrastructure and determine if we can push more water down stream we will do that. We will try to keep the discharge within the stream channel. The stream can handle about (150,000 cfs). We have not begun dropping rocks yet. The emergency spillway was never used before. The system was designed to handle 750,000 cfs without destroying the dam. “THE DAM IS SOLID”. We determined we could not repair the primary spillway and knew there would be more damage. We are going to try to maintain the integrity of the existing infrastructure as much as possible. There is a strategy to preform a corrective measure to preserve the spillway if a window presents itself.
    Sheriff will not lift evacuation order until more analysis and information is available to determine if he can do so.

    -END OF PRESS CONFERENCE-

    And here’s a very telling comment from a different Reddit thread:

    I and other engineers have been watching this materialize for a week. Nothing the DWR has said matches with what we’ve seen. NOTHING has been correct. They’ve been withholding and BS’ing people to the point that just yesterday they started calling the “Emergency Spillway” an “Auxiliary Spillway” to make it sound less scary. If lives are lost it’ll be on the Department of Water¬†Reclamation¬†Resources. for a history of this cluster-f*&^ check my submission history.

    Ha ha! ¬†I was wondering about that shift from “emergency” to “auxiliary.”
    Thought I had somehow gotten things confused, but was just being purposely confused by people trying to calm me down.
    Reminds me of “America is energy independent.” ¬†More confusion stemming from an attempt to make me feel better. ¬†Doesn’t work. ¬†cheeky

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 7:21am

    #5
    dryam2000

    dryam2000

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    The bad news…

    The bad news is rain is coming Wednesday and for a couple days thereafter.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 7:28am

    #6

    Chris Martenson

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    Posts: 4703

    Also...keep in mind

    Anybody living in the region that might be affected by a¬† giant wall of water from the Oroville dam should probably take the “it’s all stabilized and under control” statements with a gigantic grain of salt.
    They’ve pretty much lied or downplayed all of this very badly all he way through so it would take a really big leap of faith to think they are being 100% honest now.
    I’m willing to bet there’s an engineer or two out there on the scene who is screaming for the right to speak honestly with the public.
    I’ll be talking to and recording the dam expert Scott Cahill later today (from the initial captured post in the main article above) and will share that asap. ¬†I’m thinking an outsider’s view could be useful here…

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 7:50am

    #7

    thc0655

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    Posts: 1482

    Everybody knows


    “Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.”
    What’s wrong with us humans? ¬†If everybody knows the dice are loaded, why is anybody playing the game with them? ¬†Why not quit and leave the game?
    It’s not just gambling and¬†living downstream from failing dams which the government tells us are just fine. ¬†It’s our response to The Three E’s: we keep rolling the dice instead of running for the hills.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 8:03am

    #8

    Adam Taggart

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 2618

    Crossposting previous comments

    The comments below were originally posted under yesterday’s Daily Digest¬†as the situation in Oroville developed. Consolidating them here in order to have all of the information complied with Chris’ post above.
     

    Quercus bicolor wrote:

    Let’s look at what it took to get the lake to drop one foot in 23 hours.¬† The lake is perhaps just over 10 square miles or about 300,000,000 sq. ft.¬† So that’s 300M cubic feet in about 83,000 seconds or just under 4000 cubic feet per second net (inflow – outflow) to achieve that.¬† But they were dumping 100,000 cu. ft./s over the spillway, so inflow averaged 96,000 cu. ft./s.
    Now, they have about 3 days until Thursday when the rains begin in earnest or 260,000 seconds.¬† They need to drain 300,000,000 x 50 = 15 billion cubic feet of water or about 55-60,000 cu. ft/s net drainage rate.¬† They better hope the inflow drops to an average of¬† 40,000 cu. ft./s if they keep up the 100,000 spill rate.¬† That doesn’t sound to likely.
    On to the rain:  Last 06 UTC (10 PM PST) GFS weather prediction model was predicting 5-10+ inches of precipitation in the Sierras from day 3 to 9
    Not quite the 10-20 inches that fell over the past week:

    The reservoir drains about 4000 sq miles or 110 billion square feet.¬† 5 inches of precipitation makes for a bit under 50 billion cubic feet of water.¬† if it all runs off in one week (about 600,000 seconds), that would be 83,000 cu. ft./s.¬† Of course some will fall as snow and won’t run off til spring, but the peak flow rate will also likely be significantly higher than the average for a few days.¬†
    Another look: Lowering the reservoir will free up about 15 billion cu. ft. or about 30% of the expected precipitation in the basin over the next 10 days.¬† I doubt they’ll free up any more than 5-10 billion though.¬† Of course, they could drain 60 billion cubic feet over days 4-10 at 100,000 cubic feet/second and some will be stored as snow, so maybe things will work out.¬† But precipitation forecasts of that magnitude 4-10 days out are subject to significant error too.¬† An then there’s the question of whether the existing damaged spillways shored up by whatever reinforcement they can do over the next few days can sustain 100,000 cubic feet/s without failing.

     

    Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

    Migod – all of the research I am doing for this book (fiction, but involves a mine collapse) says calcite seams are the worst, most unstable…. We’d better hope that’s not what they have under that spillway at Oroville.

     

    fated wrote:

    Confidence – Nil.
    T2H¬†– that clip reminds me of the insignificance of the response humans were able to make to the Hazelwood mine fire, even with their ‘advanced’ firefighting technologies. Those choppers seem huge, imposing, and all powerful while on the airfield or flying over your house – but pale into nothingness once they have a significant natural backdrop behind them. If I were starving and they were making food drops – yes I’d be happy with their capabilities. But them sorting large scale natural disasters quickly – I’ve seen the ineffectiveness first hand.

    helicopters from 3.30 on.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-j3XWSXnf8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=svoYoAfz3Eg just for interest
    Lies, denial and misinformation from the ‘authorities’ to the detriment of local residents.
    I hope everyone over there is safe and this can be resolved ASAP.
     
     

     

    Time2help wrote:

    FYI as background. Seeing this would not inspire confidence (no reflection on the pilots/helicopter crew, they are doing their jobs/best).

     

    Time2help wrote:

    California State Water Project (Wikipedia)
    Scroll down to the “Dams and Reservoirs” table and sort by capacity. Not sure what percentage of California’s water supply this reservoir makes up, but it’s 61% of the table below.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 8:13am

    Reply to #3

    Quercus bicolor

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 19 2008

    Posts: 195

    almost 4 feet in a day ...

    46 more to go in 3 days – that’s over 15 feet a day.¬† As inflow decreases due to the dry weather, they should get more than 4 feet a day, but 15+?

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 8:56am

    Reply to #3

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 4703

    Thank you for running the numbers

    Quercus bicolor wrote:

    46 more to go in 3 days – that’s over 15 feet a day.¬† As inflow decreases due to the dry weather, they should get more than 4 feet a day, but 15+?

    Great job running the numbers above.  
    Also left un-mentioned is that the 100,000 CFS that they are currently dumping is coming out of the damaged spillway…they did this because they feared the undercutting of the emergency spillway more than the erosion of the main spillway.
    So…as long as that 100,000 CFS doesn’t begin to really eat in further…then they can continue to dump. ¬†If that suddenly takes a turn for the worse, then decisions have to be made. ¬†Slow down the dumping and hope for less rain and risk it all, or keep it up and risk it all?
    No good choices there if that’s how this plays out.
    I think the helicoptering of miniscule bags of rocks into the breach tells us they are playing for every and any advantage they can, no matter how slight.
    Who knows, the difference may well be the last bag placed?
     

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 9:19am

    #9
    Time2help

    Time2help

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    Workers Scramble To Plug Oroville Dam Hole Using Rocks, Sandbags

    In Race Against Coming Storm, Workers Scramble To Plug Oroville Dam Hole Using Rocks, Sandbags (Zerohedge)
     

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 9:21am

    #10
    Jeffleonard90@gmail.com

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    Posts: 39

    Feather River Headwaters

    Here is video footage of the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Feather river.  Lots of snow early then a warm, wet storm moved through.  The combination of significant rainfall and snow melt caused over 200000 cfs of inflow into Lake Oroville.  

    The Middle Fork of the Feather river at this point is usually not much more than a small creek surrounded by dry sagebrush cattle range.
    I am also a Fire Fighter in the Bay Area, we were dispatched late last night to Oroville, but were quickly canceled.  

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 10:08am

    #11

    jtwalsh

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 261

    Real Life Preping

    I just happened upon the news of the evacuation as it was occurring last night. Found the Sacramento, Fox affiliate online and watched mesmerized for an hour.  Within minutes every exit road from the towns below the damn were stopped dead with overflow traffic.  There were police to help direct but their presence seemed really thin.  Reporters were interviewing people through the windows of their cars stopped in traffic.  People spoke about leaving with nothing but the clothes they were wearing.
    Two things particularly amazed me.¬† No one seemed to have authority to make the highways move in only one direction.¬† One side would be blocked solid with traffic while the other two lanes would be empty for as far as the camera could show.¬† One reporter also described how traffic was flowing well on one state highway until it came into the center of a town where as series of stop lights slowed it to an absolute crawl. They couldn’t reprogram the lights?¬† An evacuation from a supposed immediate danger was forced to stop and wait for lights to change for non-existent traffic at the intersections?¬† It it were not so horrifying it would be the basis for some joke about the stupidity of bureaucrats.¬†
    The event woke me from my recent lethargy. Need to have the bug out bags ready, the important papers briefcase updated and ready to grab, the cars always full with three quarters of a tank of gas and, never, ever, rely on the powers that be to tell you the truth.  You must constantly view the situation for its own merits and take what steps you think are required without waiting for someone to tell you to move. 
    JT

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 11:15am

    #12
    PaulJam

    PaulJam

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    Posts: 70

    Maybe it is helpful to think

    Maybe it is helpful to think about this carefully in terms of the interaction between mass psychology/risk perception and response, and the timing and orientation of official government warnings.  Seems to me that when the threat is from potential catastrophes that recur within recent memory (I’m thinking hurricanes), the government errs on the side of caution (highly precautionary) regarding evacuation orders.  When it’s a relatively novel catastrophe (Teton Dam collapse in Idaho is way out of immediate recall for most), official warnings and responses are highly reactive and comparatively last-minute.  Perhaps this is related to some kind of normalcy bias with respect to our collective perceptions of risk.  Also, there appears to be cultural resistance in our institutions (and maybe society in general) to any evidence that clearly illustrates fallibility in industrial endeavors.
    If so, we could deduce in a really coarse but perhaps helpful way what to expect and what not to expect in terms of official warnings, considering the nature of the impending calamity as it relates to our cultural memory and perceptions.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 11:32am

    #13

    KugsCheese

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    Posts: 841

    Who Built the Faulty Dam?

    Does anyone know who built the faulty dam? ¬† Left me guess…uncoated rebar concrete.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 11:32am

    #14
    Xango

    Xango

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    Stepping Back

    Good point Chris on how we really have got to do a much better job of building critical infrastructure that lasts.¬† I agree wholeheartedly and you‚Äôre correct about the risk from deterioration of rebar-reinforced concrete.¬† Also important is your message about the mainstream press actually contributing to the danger by minimizing risk.¬† I agree again.¬† But I‚Äôm thinking that the most obvious, directly applicable message relates to our government‚Äôs responsibility to protect the public‚Äôs infrastructure through maintenance, inspection, and timely repair.¬† Even the most libertarian may acknowledge that this falls under an area of the ‚Äėcommons‚Äô that our Federal government has a responsibility to maintain for all citizens.¬† Of anything that I pay my taxes for, it‚Äôs these kinds of things that I value the most because they truly are Federal issues that affect us all.¬† Which brings me to one of Trump‚Äôs most idiotic (and that‚Äôs saying a lot) actions to date ‚Äď abolishing two regulations for every new regulation.¬† Many Federal regulations are in place to ensure our infrastructure integrity and protect workers.¬† I‚Äôd hate to see the dismantling of regulations that ensure proper licensing for engineers, OSHA safety regulations, mandatory periodic dam inspections, etc.¬† At a time when our infrastructure is getting a ‚ÄėD‚Äô rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers, we don‚Äôt need the dismantling of the few systems in place that at least attempt to maintain structure integrity and workplace safety.
    Just pointing this out because I’ve seen Trump’s move applauded by some on this site.  I don’t mean to make this political, just to point out the need to keep our government accountable (and funded) to do those things that it really exists for.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 12:33pm

    Reply to #14

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 397

    Double down?

     

    xango wrote:

    Just pointing this out because I’ve seen Trump’s move applauded by some on this site.  I don’t mean to make this political, just to point out the need to keep our government accountable (and funded) to do those things that it really exists for.

    Just curious, how does funding those that do a poor job in the past actually make them more accountable? Too me that seems kind of backwards.  
    How come all those regulations (thousands upon thousands) didn’t prevent this issue?¬†
    Myself, I prefer not to double down on past failed methods, aka the status quo.

    xango wrote:

    ¬†But I‚Äôm thinking that the most obvious, directly applicable message relates to our government‚Äôs responsibility to protect the public‚Äôs infrastructure through maintenance, inspection, and timely repair. ¬†Even the most libertarian may acknowledge that this falls under an area of the ‚Äėcommons‚Äô that our Federal government has a responsibility to maintain for all citizens.

    You are a bit wrong on that front. ¬†Libertarian thought is more along the lines of the government should never be building things like this at all. ¬†Stealing money to do large projects is not any different than stealing to do small projects. ¬†If a dam is viable, it should be viable in the private sector – where you actually would have concern over longevity and not just who get’s to claim the project by naming it or putting it on their political resume.
    If you say, but then things like this wouldn’t get done, I would say then maybe people would learn not to build houses in flood plains, or would not over populate areas that are unsustainable (aka Las Vegas, Phoenix, etc). ¬†Government distorts what is reasonable because it steals the money as opposed to earning it or getting it voluntarily.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 12:44pm

    #15

    Jason Wiskerchen

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    Posts: 912

    Imminent Levee Breach in nearby area Tyler Island

    Sacramento County is advising residents in the Tyler Island area south of Walnut Grove to evacuate.
    Not related to the Oroville dam issue but points to the issues the region is having with the huge volume of water we are dealing with.  More evacuation orders have been issued. More folks to be displaced.
    http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/delta/arti

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 1:46pm

    Reply to #14
    Xango

    Xango

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    But the dam is 50? years old.

    But the dam is 50? years old. ¬†Maybe it shouldn’t have been built, I don’t know. ¬†But it was built. ¬†Maybe all those people shouldn’t have moved to an area where they could grow their crops, I don’t know. ¬†But they did move there. ¬†So I get your points and even somewhat share your point of view but that doesn’t help us now. We have a certain population that we need to sustain, and telling them that they shouldn’t live there doesn’t help anyone. ¬†Most places, even the largest of our cities, have some hazard such as seismic, hurricane, contaminated water supply, etc. ¬†Dooming everyone to their fate isn’t a very community-minded attitude. ¬†I prefer to think we’re all in this together.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 1:56pm

    #16

    Locksmithuk

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 105

    Evacuation - don't wait for an invitation

    It is NEVER a good idea to wait for an invitation / instruction to evacuate, if common sense or the warning bell of one’s survival instinct starts to kick in. The escape dynamics in tsunami & flood scenarios are the same as they are in the leadup to financial collapse i.e. the exit doors get crowded, or the escape routes get shut off quickly.
     
    The Oroville situation is very similar to a flood event which we had in 2011 in Queensland, Australia. However, Oroville seems worse because of the clear degradation to the dam’s structure. Most of the damage in Queensland was to communities and towns far away from the flood source, because of land contours and water’s path of least resistance. Often that’s the real potential for devastation & misery, because those remoter people 10, 20, 30 miles away simply switch off to the dangers.
     
    All the best to those in and around the Oroville Dam vicinity.
     
    This is how quickly water’s destructive power built up in Queensland:

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 2:24pm

    #17
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Useful links & some hydropower loss data

    I’ve been following this story intensely starting Monday Feb 13 2017. ¬†Here are some useful resources:
    KCRA Sacramento news TV live feed
    Good explanation of the primary spillway, the auxiliary aka emergency spillway, and main dam.
    Note that both spillways are only used in emergencies, they should NEVER be used in normal operations, so the inaccurate term “emergency spillway” is misleading. ¬†The correct term is “auxiliary spillway” (source). ¬†If it were operated competently, all of the discharge would be via the hydropower plant at the base of the dam, because the reservoir would have been preemptively lowered via the hydropower plant ahead of the storms.
    Hydropower
    The hydropower plant is currently shut down due to debris from the main spillway erosion backup up the tailrace (source).  This is almost entirely unreported.  Because of that the only discharge method currently available is the main spillway. The 17,000 cfs that would normally flow through the hydro generators is completely shut down, not only exacerbating the problem of trying to (belatedly) drop the level of the reservoir, but also resulting in vast amounts of lost power in the process.  This lost hydro power will have to be replaced by other sources, primarily natural gas.
    Details on lost power from sending water down the spillways rather than through the hydro power plant. ¬†I’m updating this with new info as it arrives. ¬†Please let me know if you have further info for it, in particular the items highlighted in yellow.
    Thanks – Pete

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 3:59pm

    Reply to #16
    fated

    fated

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    Evacuation - don't wait - and make your own decisions

    I agree totally.
    Towns surrounding the Hazelwood mine were not evacuated during the mine fire. The official story began as advice there was nothing to fear. The story gradually changed a little. Just like the Oroville story seems to be changing. There was never a town evacuation though – the quiet official justification not voiced to the public was there would be more deaths from evacuation stress… Future cancer statistics may well prove that wrong.
    I took my family and moved out ASAP I could, once I could see the situation was not resolving. However in the days before the mine fire, when it was just a bush fire, evacuation from our area of town was ordered. My husband refused to go, and his brother proactively entered into town, they chose to stay present ready to fight fire, sending grandma and the kids somewhere safer. I happened to be out of town at the time, and therefore got locked out of re-entering town. angry
    We are willing to make our own decisions and take the consequences. I do not like to be told what to do by incompetent ‘officials’ who don’t have to live with the consequences to my family. I will decide what is a risk to my health and safety.
    As far as flooding goes – you MUST know your catchment area. When we lived by the Logan river in Queensland it was not local rain that caused flooding, but rains up in the catchment area. We always kept an eye on this and the upstream monitoring levels, and there were marks under the house showing us where previous floods had reached. A stark reminder if you were indecisive.

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 5:20pm

    #18

    sand_puppy

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 1938

    Creating Panic, Living in Fear, Destroying Hope

    Creating Panic, Living in Fear, Destroying Hope
    All of these phrases are used to withhold factual information from other people or to justify a psychological defense of not look realistically at some hard bit of reality.  Unfortunately, even though the intent of the tactic is kindness, these cognitive distortions impair our ability to deal effectively with situations.
    I think that it is important to separate: 1) the situation, from, 2) the emotional reaction to the situation.
    Don’t tell people that the spillway is eroding badly and the dam and has a 30% chance of failing.¬† They might panic and cause harm and social disruption in their panic.¬† Instead lets reassure by falsely saying “all is well.”¬† Using a false reassurance deprives people (who believe those reassurances) of the chance to effectively and creatively respond to the situation.
    Denial is the most common psychological defense used to manage anxiety evoking information.¬† PP is full of our stories of denial’s many flavors.
    “That will NEVER happen.”¬†
    “You are over-reacting.”¬†
    “Don’t be so pessimistic.”¬†
    “Life is too short to worry all the time.”¬†
    “Don’t dwell on negativity or you will attract it into your life.”¬†
    “Everything will be fine.¬† You’ll see.”¬†
    “I am a happy person and don’t like to talk about bad things.”
    “God is Love.¬† As a spiritual person I only focus on things that evoke His Love.”
    “I refuse to live in fear.”

    How about we look at the situation as clearly as we can as the first step.  Then, in a second step, we deal with our emotional reactions to the situation.  Emotional reactions go through stages and evolve.  But that is a separate issue.
     
     
     

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  • Mon, Feb 13, 2017 - 5:45pm

    #19
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Not the first modern dam failure in the US

    Along with the Teton dam failure, the St. Francis dam failed in 1928, killing up to 425 people. ¬†There was a scathing writeup on it in the outstanding book “Cadillac Desert”. ¬†Many of the same government lies and mismanagement were in play. ¬†90 years on, it’s deja vu all over again.

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 4:49am

    Reply to #12

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4703

    Great insight

    Paul_VT wrote:

    Maybe it is helpful to think about this carefully in terms of the interaction between mass psychology/risk perception and response, and the timing and orientation of official government warnings. 
    Seems to me that when the threat is from potential catastrophes that recur within recent memory (I’m thinking hurricanes), the government errs on the side of caution (highly precautionary) regarding evacuation orders.  When it’s a relatively novel catastrophe (Teton Dam collapse in Idaho is way out of immediate recall for most), official warnings and responses are highly reactive and comparatively last-minute. 
    Perhaps this is related to some kind of normalcy bias with respect to our collective perceptions of risk.  Also, there appears to be cultural resistance in our institutions (and maybe society in general) to any evidence that clearly illustrates fallibility in industrial endeavors.
    If so, we could deduce in a really coarse but perhaps helpful way what to expect and what not to expect in terms of official warnings, considering the nature of the impending calamity as it relates to our cultural memory and perceptions.

    Paul – this really stuck with me and I think it’s a fantastic insight. ¬†At least I have a number of recent events that all pop right into this framework.
    Fukushima was flat out lying. ¬†The actual depth of the financial crisis of 2008 was also¬†flat out lying – things were so bad that people in-the-know were busy taking out cash and preparing bug out bags. ¬†The rest of us were told happy stories about how ‘they’ had it all under control.
    Hurricanes get that royal safety treatment you describe.
    So, to reiterate, the model is; known and previously experienced risks get plenty of proper treatment, novel or rare risks get swept under the rug.
    As long as we’re simply facing the usual sorts of risks, then everything is fine and institutions are useful. ¬†When it’s brand new risks, then one simply has to think and gage risks for oneself. ¬†
    This brings us to the work here at Peak Prosperity. ¬†What we’re trying to do is sound the alarm over a very new set of risks that the world has never faced before; a global system of debt-based money exponentially expanding (on the steep part of the curve now too) into a world of finite energy that happens to be flat lining.
    I mean, What else are we to make of the fact that oil discoveries for the past several years have been at levels not seen since the 1950’s?

    (Source)
    “You have to find it before you can pump it.”
    There’s going to be a world of hurt coming when these low discoveries combined with existing depletion crimp future oil and either create massively high prices, fighting over access, or both.
    I’m 100% positive that some officials are in the possession¬†of this knowledge but it’s too novel, too “out there” to share with the public. ¬†So the public is told happy talk about (expensive) shale oils and good old American ingenuity when the reality is very different from that. ¬†
    Expensive and rapidly depleting oil just isn’t the same thing as cheap, long lasting oil wells.
    This is why we need to prepare ourselves, trust ourselves, and I am thankful to the Oroville dam situation for reminding us of that again.

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 6:11am

    #20
    richcabot

    richcabot

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    Human responsibility is they key attribute

    It’s not the normalcy or lack thereof that affects timeliness of disclosure, it’s accountability. ¬†Hurricanes, earthquakes, winter storms, etc. are readily warned because they are “acts of God”, there’s no elite or governmental accountability involved. ¬†Dam failures (Grand Teton, Oroville), levee failures (Katrina), nuclear accidents (Fukushima, Chernobyl) don’t get warnings because the people responsible hope they can partially mitigate the disaster. ¬†They also don’t want the magnitude of their culpability to be understood by the masses. ¬†
    Lying about the situation allows them to manipulate perceptions and obfuscate responsibility. ¬†By dragging t out the things out the public anger is partly dissipated by time. ¬†If “properly” managed the worst bits become old news and get much less attention. ¬†Fukushima is the best example of this last aspect. ¬†Most people today think Fukushima was not that big of a deal.

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 7:19am

    Reply to #14

    Waterdog14

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    Posts: 128

    The Central Valley feeds us (for now)

    Xango wrote:

    …Maybe all those people shouldn’t have moved to an area where they could grow their crops, I don’t know. ¬†But they did move there. ¬†
    …We have a certain population that we need to sustain, and telling them that they shouldn’t live there doesn’t help anyone. ¬†Most places, even the largest of our cities, have some hazard such as seismic, hurricane, contaminated water supply, etc. ¬†Dooming everyone to their fate isn’t a very community-minded attitude. ¬†I prefer to think we’re all in this together.

    Agreed!¬† The Central Valley of California feeds much of the U.S.¬† My brother lives about 60 miles NE of Oroville, and the first time I visited I was astonished at the fields and groves of olives, rice, almonds, walnuts, prunes, oranges, peaches, and pistachios…¬†¬†Statistics show that in 2014, Butte County¬†CA (Oroville) produced over $800,000,000 in food.¬† The last thing we should do is blame the hardworking farmers for living¬†near Oroville and growing our food.¬†¬†¬†¬†I happen to like olives.¬† A lot.¬† (Ok, I love olives!)¬†
     

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 8:24am

    #21
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Posts: 23

    Can they drain it quickly enough (best case)?

    I’ve been thinking about if it’s even possible to drain out enough water to prepare for the massive snow pack melt. ¬†I don’t know the answer so I’m hoping that some others can help.
    The dam was designed with 3 outlets:
    Hydro plant (base) – 17,000 CFS
    Main spillway (top) – Currently 100,000 CFS, but eroding (how long before it must be turned off?), and only drains the top (from 813.6′ elevation)
    Auxiliary spillway (top) – Disabled, and only drains the top (from 901′ elevation)

    For everything to go perfectly, the main spillway needs to be able to drain down to it’s level (813.6′), then it stops. ¬†At that point workmen start clearing the debris from the bottom, allowing restart of hydro plant when they are done (perhaps a week?). ¬†The hydro plant then runs at full capacity, 17,000 CFS, for as long as it takes to lower the reservoir to a safe level to accommodate the melting of the snow pack.
    Can the comparatively puny flow rate of the “bottom drain” (hydro plant) (about 1/6th the rate of the main spillway) pull down the reservoir enough before the melt water fills the reservoir again, assuming the best possible case of no further rain or snow and a delayed and slow melt? ¬†Does anybody have the numbers and ability to calculate that?

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 10:07am

    #22

    Cold Rain

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 26 2016

    Posts: 302

    Draining

    It seems like it’s going to be a difficult process to maintain the integrity of the dam over the next couple of weeks. ¬†As they are discharging through the main spillway, we have to assume that some erosion is still taking place there. ¬†But they must keep that going, as they are facing several more inches of rain over the next 5 days or so. ¬†Even beyond that, models continue to show a strong Pacific jet transporting disturbances into the CA coast, bringing additional rainfall. ¬†They truly face a tough couple of weeks out there.
    Regarding the comments thus far about warnings and notifying the public, I pretty much agree with what’s been said. ¬†The more we advance as a society, the more obvious it becomes how much we have sacrificed safety, knowledge, and skills for convenience, comfort, and instant gratification. ¬†Unfortunately, we’ve become too reliant on things to manage our lives which are beyond our control. ¬†And we’ve done this to our own detriment. ¬†The population only moves in concert through crisis. ¬†And the potential crisis points that now exist just below the surface are almost too numerous to even catalog.

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 10:16am

    #23

    Cold Rain

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    Posts: 302

    12z GFS QPF

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 11:02am

    Reply to #14

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    It's about what is sustainable

    Xango wrote:

    Maybe it shouldn’t have been built, I don’t know. ¬†But it was built. ¬†Maybe all those people shouldn’t have moved to an area where they could grow their crops, I don’t know. ¬†But they did move there. ¬†So I get your points and even somewhat share your point of view but that doesn’t help us now. We have a certain population that we need to sustain, and telling them that they shouldn’t live there doesn’t help anyone. ¬†

    First of all I never said people should be abandon. ¬†What I have issue with is the attitude that we have to have the government save us and it continues the same polices and thinking that created the mess in the first place. ¬†Yes, in this case they are the only ones who can do anything because of the short duration, but you were complaining about cutting funding to all these same agencies and regulatory policies that are responsible for this mess. ¬†Shouldn’t we take a step back, as you said, and look at why we are here? ¬†Is it because we surrender power over our lives to people who have little to no accountability, and yet you were advocating more of the same.

    Waterdog14 wrote:

    Agreed!¬† The Central Valley of California feeds much of the U.S.¬† My brother lives about 60 miles NE of Oroville, and the first time I visited I was astonished at the fields and groves of olives, rice, almonds, walnuts, prunes, oranges, peaches, and pistachios…¬†¬†Statistics show that in 2014, Butte County¬†CA (Oroville) produced over $800,000,000 in food.¬† The last thing we should do is blame the hardworking farmers for living¬†near Oroville and growing our food.¬†¬†¬†¬†I happen to like olives.¬† A lot.¬† (Ok, I love olives!)

    Yes, it’s amazing the amount of food, but this dam and other large projects like it done on taxpayer (theft victims) funds are simply a giant subsidy to someone. ¬†In this case the farmers and consumers. ¬†The problem is you have no idea how much those olives should cost. ¬†Is the central valley really the best place to grow them? ¬†Is it even remotely sustainable? ¬†Everyone talks about sustainable, but we have no idea what that is because there are so many distortions in the system. ¬†Is farming in the central valley and shipping food long distances really sustainable in a declining oil system? ¬†How about maintenance of all this infrastructure? ¬†The only way you know is if someone tries it, and is able to succeed without stealing from others to do so.¬†
    So no, I don’t overly blame the farmers, they are simply making the best of the current system, but like all of us, we need to realize we are living a lie. ¬†Most of us are heavily subsidized in many ways, whether that be use of large amounts of oil, the jobs we have, the food we eat. ¬†We need to wake up and understand that government, through taxation and money printing, are a primary cause of that unsustainability.
     

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 12:06pm

    Reply to #17
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    More info on the hydropower plant status

    This is from the DWR news conference on Feb 11. ¬†(source) ¬†Evidently there are 2 problems standing in the way of allowing water flow through the hydro plant at the base of the dam. ¬†#1 is debris and water backed up in the channel (tail race), #2 is the removed or compromised power lines leading away from the power plant. ¬†Apparently they can’t run the water through the turbines without being connected to the grid, which seems odd to me.

    The power generation was halted when water levels in the channel rose too high and comrpomised operation. 
    According to Croyle, the plant faces two challenges. First, if debris washes upstream and gets into the plant it could damage equipment and cause them to shut down operations. Second, if the power lines that connect the plant to the grid go offline then the plant is no longer able to operate, or even let water through. Currently, the power lines are stretched across the area where the emergency spillway is releasing water, and erosion could damage the power poles. 
    PG&E had been doing preparatory work on the lines in the past couple of days, but with water coming off the emergency spillway it became no longer safe for them to continue their work and they had to back off.

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 3:07pm

    #24
    Jamie Webb

    Jamie Webb

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    Oroville Spillway

    First thank you very much for interviewing Mr Cahill, his LinkedIn and that interview have been just about the only hard earth science available on the crisis at Oroville Dam.
    I’ve been waiting for someone to publish the minimum level for the primary spillway. This poses yet one other problem going forward. I’ve suspected all weekend that the powerhouse was going to be destroyed if by nothing else by the sedimentation of the diversion pond. With that in mind, the minimum level of the main spillway at ~813′ is the absolute minimum the lake can be lowered to. There is no ” base drain” without the powerhouse no matter what happens.
    Even with the announcement that a whole new spillway will be needed to replace the damaged structure, how can you possibly improve the design and construct a new outflow if you can’t lower the lakes level below the existing structure? In theory a cofferdam I guess but anchored to what? And what location are you going to build it in?
    This is a NIGHTMARE, cost, engineering, geologically….
    One of my geology profs once lectured us on “design basis” events, which is the maximum event a structure is engineered to withstand. The catch was that design basis wasn’t determined by the worst the mentioned doom and gloom engineer could dream up. It was instead the maximum protection you could afford to protect against. This, fukushima, Katrina all couldn’t be better examples of this lesson in action.

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 4:05pm

    Reply to #12
    PaulJam

    PaulJam

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    Posts: 70

    frameworks

    Thanks Chris – the Hurricane example popped into my head the second I started reading this thread, and I thought that maybe observed patterns from public/institutional warning systems could be characterized in some helpful way.
    Its consistent with what your site is successfully doing in so many different ways – helping develop a picture of what to expect and what not to expect when we start hitting steep parts of the descent curve. Substantiating a framework concerning “official” alarms and warnings might help illustrate the need to ¬†accept that there will likely be “run for your life” (or simply withdraw $ form the banking system) situations¬†that requires independent assessment and response outside of official advisories. ¬†All part of your efforts to help empower ourselves and trust our own judgments.
    The trick of course, is the tension that the NWS tries to navigate with hurricanes – I’m thinking of all the evacuations that occur only for the storm to veer in another direction at the last minute. ¬†While the evacuations may be appropriate given the nature and degree of risk, NWS evacuation warning messages loses credibility capital every time a storm veers away, with fewer people trusting the warnings, and thus less likely to heed the warnings next time.

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  • Tue, Feb 14, 2017 - 10:55pm

    Reply to #21
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Posts: 23

    More drain numbers

    DWR has some great data on the reservoir (source).  By looking at lake elevation graphs versus lake storage graphs I was able to work out the storage capacities at roughly 10 foot increments.  From that I was able to work out how long it would take to drain from one level to the next.  Spreadsheet is here.
    The good news is that the main spillway running at 100,000 CFS can drop it ¬†40 feet, from 900′ (overflow via the auxiliary spillway) to 860′ (the inlet to the main spillway) in under 4 days, assuming zero inflow. ¬†Any inflow will of course lengthen that time.
    The bad news is that after it drops below 860′, the only drain is the power plant, which is offline with no ETA yet. ¬†Stated cause is debris in the outlet pool, rumored reason also includes flooding and unspecified damage. ¬†It only flows max 17,000 CFS so takes a week to drop the lake only 10 feet, assuming zero inflow.
    Call me pessimistic, but I can’t see how this thing is going to be able to drain via the power plant alone. ¬†It’s going to need the spillways if another big rain comes, and certainly when the snow melts. ¬†In 15 weeks it won’t have dropped 150 feet below the 860′ main spillway entrance, probably not 100′. ¬†And then the snowmelt comes along, on top of whatever rain has fallen between now and then.

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  • Wed, Feb 15, 2017 - 2:02pm

    #25
    RedRider13

    RedRider13

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    Posts: 3

    Photo Analysis

     I did some research online looking at photo’s. Found some interesting things…
    In this photo you can see the drains actively flowing above the failure site.They cease to flow below the failure, indicating that the water is no longer under pressure and has been relieved by the failure of the spillway surface. They also appear to flow stronger the higher up the face they are. This would be because some of the water is released along the spillway side curtain, as seen in a following photo. I think this leak has been in place for a long time, and has only recently exposed itself in a surface failure. They previously attempted to patch the crack, without solving the under surface situation.

     
    http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/dl5u4j/picture131933599/binary/SPILLWAYWATCHcopy
     
    This image seems to support the increased flow observations from earlier. Also note no flow below the failure point. This is only on the ‚ÄúLeft‚ÄĚ side of the spillway, the right side still flows below the failure site. Also, lots of flow‚Ķ.without much spillway pressure‚Ķ possibly indicating a pool breach pressure source.

     
    http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/27n2uk/picture131475559/binary/spillwaydamage
     
    Note, flow continues past failure on left side of picture. Does not appear that pressure is coming from spillway source. Not a good sign.

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/3ll8fd/picture131475549/binary/KGspillwaydamage

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  • Wed, Feb 15, 2017 - 2:21pm

    Reply to #25

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4703

    Re: Photo anlaysis

    RedRider13 wrote:

     I did some research online looking at photo’s. Found some interesting things…
    In this photo you can see the drains actively flowing above the failure site.They cease to flow below the failure, indicating that the water is no longer under pressure and has been relieved by the failure of the spillway surface. They also appear to flow stronger the higher up the face they are. This would be because some of the water is released along the spillway side curtain, as seen in a following photo. I think this leak has been in place for a long time, and has only recently exposed itself in a surface failure. 

    This seems highly significant to me, so thank you for the analysis. ¬†But I don’t quite understand it. ¬†
    Obviously for water to be ‘shooting’ out of the spillway curtain drains, there has to be water underneath the spillway, and pretty high up the spillway too since they are venting water up to and past the “knee” where the spillway steepens.
    Is this correct?  (Also, sorry for any incorrect terms or jargon).
    If so, where did this water come from?  Is it leaking beneath the spillway after being released from the dam, or before?  
    Further, in either case, it seems that there’s a leak in the spillway very high up – above the ‘knee’ somewhere – and one thing I know about water is that it will try and make any cavity larger and will always succeed¬†if given enough time.
    Where is this water coming from? ¬†How significant is it that it’s coming out under what appears to be considerable pressure (and volume)?

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  • Wed, Feb 15, 2017 - 6:13pm

    Reply to #25
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    cmartenson wrote:Where is

    cmartenson wrote:

    Where is this water coming from? ¬†How significant is it that it’s coming out under what appears to be considerable pressure (and volume)?

    Regarding the bottom photos, it appears to me that there are 2 separate sources.
    Left side РClear water, indicating no erosion.  This appears to be sourced somewhere near the top, flowing through the gravel layer between the spillway side wall and the earthen hillside, emerging through the side drains.
    Right side РBrown water, indicating erosion.  This emerges from the bottom lip of the hole in the concrete.  It has somehow flowed across earth, either under the concrete spillway or along the right side, where the gravel and earth have been eroded away.
    Both sources must be above the hole, but where?  The clear water is less of a concern.  The brown water is really scary.  As the dam expert noted in one of his outstanding Linkedin posts, the crack in the bottom of the spillway concrete likely was the result of water running under it undetected, carrying away the earth underneath it, leaving it unsupported.  Then when the weight and impact of the rushing discharge water hit it, it failed, leaving a hole.  This had nice jagged edges and dirt underneath, perfect for the fast moving 100,000 CFS stream to scour it, eventually completely removing the bottom part of the spillway.
    Is there a leak under the spillway head gates?  We should know pretty quickly as the water drops to the level of them and thus quits flowing down the spillway, allowing easier inspection.

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  • Wed, Feb 15, 2017 - 7:16pm

    #26
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Power plant update

    Several simultaneous projects are planned or underway to bring the power plant back online, restarting the bottom outflow (17,000 CFS max).
    Building a new road to allow heavy equipment to access the pool at the bottom of the main spillway
    Clearing the debris from the pool using heavy equipment (new road) and barges
    Moving power transmission line towers higher up, to safer ground
    Restringing the wires to the new tower

    (source)

     

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  • Wed, Feb 15, 2017 - 7:51pm

    #27
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Historical outflow graph

    (source) NOTE: The hydro power plant maxes out at 17,000 CFS, so everything above that is the spillway(s)

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  • Wed, Feb 15, 2017 - 9:14pm

    #28

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    More Photo Analysis

    peterkuykendall wrote:

    Regarding the bottom photos, it appears to me that there are 2 separate sources.
    Left side РClear water, indicating no erosion.  This appears to be sourced somewhere near the top, flowing through the gravel layer between the spillway side wall and the earthen hillside, emerging through the side drains.
    Right side РBrown water, indicating erosion.  This emerges from the bottom lip of the hole in the concrete.  It has somehow flowed across earth, either under the concrete spillway or along the right side, where the gravel and earth have been eroded away
    Both sources must be above the hole, but where?  The clear water is less of a concern.  The brown water is really scary.  As the dam expert noted in one of his outstanding Linkedin posts, the crack in the bottom of the spillway concrete likely was the result of water running under it undetected, carrying away the earth underneath it, leaving it unsupported.  Then when the weight and impact of the rushing discharge water hit it, it failed, leaving a hole.  This had nice jagged edges and dirt underneath, perfect for the fast moving 100,000 CFS stream to scour it, eventually completely removing the bottom part of the spillway.
    Is there a leak under the spillway head gates?  We should know pretty quickly as the water drops to the level of them and thus quits flowing down the spillway, allowing easier inspection.

    The bottom photo in post #37 is a photo of the spillway after the first trial. The area is currently significantly more eroded. In this photo, there is water sheeting off the intact spillway into the void. There is water coming from the upper side drains (on both sides) and possibly also from a not-completely-sealed spillway gate. There may be an additional subterranean source. The water is likely mixing with the slumped soil from the erosional feature slightly above the spillway head scarp on the right side. This muddy water splits with some of it returning to the bottom spillway and most of it forming its own channel to the right of the spillway. I agree with you that muddy water indicates erosion.
    Looking at more recent photos, I interpret the reddish colored rock as being more weathered and thus weaker. Water has done its job and removed what it could. Although more erosion may occur, the effluent is now running much clearer. I agree, that is a good sign. The bottom of the spillway is still intact as evidenced by plumes from water impacting the energy dissipater blocks at the bottom of the spillway.
    The older photo (bottom photo in¬†post #37)¬†shows reddish color behind the spillway head¬†scarp. If¬†the red color¬†indicates weaker rock, that rock¬†may have weathered/eroded from under the spillway. Surface water percolating through a weak seam could do that.¬†That could have been a source for the original weakness of the spillway. The rock may have been competent and unweathered when the spillway was built.¬†Different chemical mixtures in the granitic¬†source rock weather at differing rates.¬†I’ve worked with slaking shale that was very difficult to chisel, but crumbled under hand pressure after being exposed to air for a day. Not that this rock was like that, but stranger things happen. The rock in the hillside¬†certainly isn’t homogeneous.
    Also, that¬†drawing showing the underground power plant¬†is more or less for¬†illustrating the pertinent components of the¬†dam. It definitely¬†is not to scale. The power plant would be much, much¬†smaller and much closer to the toe of the dam. I’m only pointing this out so laymen won’t¬†get the wrong idea.
    I’m glad they are working on several fronts, particularly getting the power plant operational. Without that functioning, the¬†only “safe”¬†exit is through the spillway.
    Grover

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  • Wed, Feb 15, 2017 - 10:22pm

    Reply to #14

    Wendy S. Delmater

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    Joined: Dec 13 2009

    Posts: 1418

    some regs necessary

    For what it’s worth, I’m a ¬†retired safety engineer. OSHA is necessary.; there are employers who would put their workers at extreme risk. ¬†And the regulations go through a review process where industry weighs in. So yes. I will be¬†writing the new administration about keeping those regs.¬†

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 6:36am

    #29

    Cold Rain

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    Still Looking Wet

    Both the 0z and 6z (below) GFS runs show plenty of rainfall over the next 7 days. ¬†The Canadian model agrees. ¬†I can’t see the European QPF maps, but it looks very wet as well. ¬†I guess they have things stabilized now, so we’re probably beyond the critical zone, with lesser chance of failure going forward, just based on some of the comments.

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 6:55am

    Reply to #29

    Snydeman

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    I'm dubious

    and skeptical when hearing any statements from officials saying “everything is awesome.”
     
    Never bet against chaos. It wins more often than the house.

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 8:09am

    Reply to #21
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Drain numbers corrected

    My apologies, in an earlier post I repeatedly stated the level of the main spillway inlet as 860′ versus the actual value of 813.6′. ¬†Dyslexia failure!
    As of Feb 15, the level of the lake is about 870′, about 60′ above the main spillway inlet, and is dropping about 9′ / day. (source) ¬†So with no increased input, it would take about 7 days to drop to the level of the main spillway inlet. ¬†That time will be extended by the amount in increased intake brought about by the coming storms.
    DWR chart:
    My projection, based on the DWR data above and assuming no storms and linear drop for simplicity. ¬†The storms will slow the rate of decrease in elevation. ¬†The projection flattens out at 813.6′, the level of the main spillway intake. ¬†Whenever the hydro power plant comes back online it will be able to decline below that, at about 1/6th the rate (17,000 CFS versus 100,000 CFS).

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 10:19am

    Reply to #14

    rhare

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    Just another distortion n the system

    Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

    For what it’s worth, I’m a ¬†retired safety engineer. OSHA is necessary.; there are employers who would put their workers at extreme risk. ¬†And the regulations go through a review process where industry weighs in.¬†

    I disagree. There are 3 parties involved that have a vested interest and an OSHA person isn’t one of them. You have
    Employee – obviously wants to not be hurt and still be able to work.
    Employer – who want the job done, doesn’t want to have to retrain an employee or possibly pay for injuries depending on their agreement with the Employee.
    Consumer Рthe person who is buying what ever the Employer is selling.  You get to vote with your pocket book if you want better care of the Employee.  

    The OSHA inspector has no vested interest except as a consumer, the only power they have is through acts of violence by the state.  This, just like anything done by the state, no matter how good sounding, is simply another potentially unsustainable distortion.   It has the same impact as minimum wage laws in that it raises the cost of labor to where what ever is being done becomes not worth doing, gets automated, or gets pushed to anther jurisdiction.

    Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

    So yes. I will be writing the new administration about keeping those regs. 

    As you are doing that, please keep in the back of your mind, what you are saying is I’m asking someone to use violence against the Employer and/or the Employee on my behalf. ¬†To ultimately kill them by sending men with guns if they don’t want to do things my way.
    Or you could offer your services to an Employer by explaining to them how you can help save them money (better employees with less cost, less turn over) or you can help improve their image with their consumer. ¬†Or you could talk to groups of the employees and explain how to improve safety in their jobs. ¬†These are voluntary acts and don’t involve threat/use of violence.
    Everyone should keep that last point in mind. ¬†Anything you ask the state to do on your behalf is advocating violence by proxy. ¬†Is it worth it, that’s up to you, but at least understand what your asking for and does it fit within your moral belief system. ¬†If you aren’t willing to pick up a gun, go to the Employee and Employer and shoot them if they refuse to comply, then you shouldn’t be asking someone else to do it for you. I see truly compassionate people,and I know your one from your writings on this site, that don’t think about what they are asking.¬†

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 12:20pm

    Reply to #14

    Snydeman

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    Posts: 521

    rhare wrote:As you are doing

    rhare wrote:

    As you are doing that, please keep in the back of your mind, what you are saying is I’m asking someone to use violence against the Employer and/or the Employee on my behalf. ¬†To ultimately kill them by sending men with guns if they don’t want to do things my way.
    Or you could offer your services to an Employer by explaining to them how you can help save them money (better employees with less cost, less turn over) or you can help improve their image with their consumer. ¬†Or you could talk to groups of the employees and explain how to improve safety in their jobs. ¬†These are voluntary acts and don’t involve threat/use of violence.
    Everyone should keep that last point in mind. ¬†Anything you ask the state to do on your behalf is advocating violence by proxy. ¬†Is it worth it, that’s up to you, but at least understand what your asking for and does it fit within your moral belief system. ¬†If you aren’t willing to pick up a gun, go to the Employee and Employer and shoot them if they refuse to comply, then you shouldn’t be asking someone else to do it for you. I see truly compassionate people,and I know your one from your writings on this site, that don’t think about what they are asking.¬†

    Or we could allow labor to unify itself, instead of outlawing such organizations of the working classes. Better yet, let’s go back a time when the employees were treated with such horrible disrespect and subjected to even more horrible working and living conditions that they joined communist organizations by the millions. Better times, those were!

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 2:02pm

    Reply to #14
    Luke Moffat

    Luke Moffat

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    Posts: 365

    Safety Standards and Authorities

    Hi rhare
    I’m not sure it’s as clear cut as that. As I railway engineer I am licensed by the Institute of Railway Signalling¬†Engineers to undertake Signalling¬†Design Work. When doing so I must adhere to safety standards that have been developed over decades of railway accidents and accumulated experience that has followed the evolution of signalling systems. Expecting the three bodies you listed to remember and implement over a century of best practice without referring to enforced safety principles is a little naive. I have been in situations where I have had to point to the relevant safety standard and say “No, you can’t do that,” to the client, quoting the standard to back up my justifications. Removing that safety net would only spell trouble. And no guns were required.
    DaveF posted something a while ago called the ‘normalisation of deviance’ referring to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Sure the people involved suffered reputational damage and prosecution, but that alone didn’t clean up the 4.9 million barrels of oil polluting the Gulf of Mexico or bring back the 11 lives lost, in addition to the wildlife destroyed.
    Wendy – write away!
    Regards,
    Luke

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 2:12pm

    #30

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Effects of a dam break

    Here is a 12 minute video focused on the Oroville dam and¬†projected reservoir levels based on weather precipitation models. The first couple of minutes gives a summary of the situation (very worth watching.) The rest is interesting to watch, but a bit hyperbolic. A slight shift in the jet stream and everything changes – better or worse. The long term¬†weather models just aren’t that good. The videos show the scale of erosion below the spillways¬†very well. The huge¬†equipment being used looks miniscule.

    He mentions some really sound advice that I concur completely. If you’re downstream of Oroville and the dam fails, your current existence will be over. Whatever you take with you is what you will have.¬†The swath of devastation won’t just be confined to the Feather River corridor. You need to evaluate the potential impact to you. A wall of water just a few feet high can cause enormous damage to unreinforced structures. Remember the videos of the Japanese tsunami?
    Frankly, if you can’t do anything about it, it isn’t worth worrying about either. It is best to assess your personal situation ahead of time, decide what possible options you have, and then choose trigger points that will cause you to act in a certain manner. For instance, if reservoir levels¬†are rising fast enough that water looks like it will crest the emergency spillway, you better be¬†going and have somewhere to go!!!
    Officialdom will not give you¬†warnings soon enough to matter. They won’t want to cause an unwarranted¬†panic. If/when¬†warnings come, there simply aren’t enough highway lanes to evacuate that large of an area. Factor that into your plans.
    If the dam breaks, lots of things that¬†all of us¬†currently take for granted will change. Transportation and utility lines will be broken for a considerable distance. The major interstates (I-5 and I-80) will be severed, hampering any efforts to get help to those who need it. Think of Katrina’s devastation on steroids. Southern/Central California gets lots of water from Northern California. If those facilities are destroyed, what impacts will be created?
    For the rest of us in the world, there will be fewer options at the grocery stores. Some pharmaceuticals may not be available for quite a while. Consider getting your medical needs up to date. Do you like olives? You might want to stock up. What about other currently abundant products? How long will those be abundant in a panic? It is prudent to plan ahead. It is hoarding when supply lines are cut.
    California’s finances are already on shaky legs. A dam break would bring it to its knees (at a minimum.) Will there be enough energy to rebuild the area? Look at Katrina and the efforts necessary to bring it to its current state. That was back when debt loads were considerably lighter at all levels of government. Bottom line, it will impact us all to some degree.
    Grover

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 5:48pm

    #31
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Power pole base erosion

    This appears to be one of the towers that has prompted the relocation of the transmission line.  The erosion around the feet is clearly visible.

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 6:34pm

    #32
    Time2help

    Time2help

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    Posts: 2261

    Pacific Storm Parade Returns Wednesday

    Pacific Storm Parade Returns Wednesday, Will Add to One of California’s Wettest Winters in Years (Weather Underground)
     

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  • Thu, Feb 16, 2017 - 10:50pm

    #33
    mystar

    mystar

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    Oroville resident

    OMG!!
    This is my town, lived here all my life.  We never got much from having the Dam over our heads except when Dam comes up for re-licencing, then Oroville tries to get some $ for Environmental and recreational /park projects.  We had some very nice parks all along the Feather River; nice fish hatchery, Athletic fields.. All are wiped out now. Levies are breaking and orchards flooded.  Fish and wildlife destroyed.   People are upset and resentful due to the terrible losses, and distrust of authorities due to feeling we are not being told the truth about what is going on and what may happen in the coming week. 
    At least our bags are packed now.  Better than sitting in the restaurant, hearing the sirens go off and an evacuation order to immediately run for your life.  Folks dropped their fork, left plates of food uneaten, jumped in the car and TRIED to leave town.  But then had to stress out wondering if a wall of water was going to materialize in their rear view mirrors while hopelessly stuck in traffic for hours trying to get out of the flood zone with 200,000 other people on the roads.
    Yup, Fun Times in Oroville.  My town will never be the same again.

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  • Fri, Feb 17, 2017 - 9:38am

    #34
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Posts: 23

    "Not sure anything went wrong" - DWR acting director Croyle !!!

    Yes he really said this at the press conference on Feb 13, after both spillways had sustained massive erosion and, in the case of the main spillway, massive structural damage as well.
    Video link is here. ¬†He starts speaking at 3:48. ¬†Remarks regarding the erosion, including “I’m not sure anything went wrong”, start at 8:10.
    That is followed immediately by a question regarding the 2005 relicensing concern about the lack of concrete below the auxiliary spillway. ¬†He said he was unfamiliar with “that documentation or conversation”!¬†angry
    You can sleep well at night, the dam is in competent hands, and they are telling nothing but the truth.wink
     

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  • Fri, Feb 17, 2017 - 8:26pm

    #35
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Dischange slowed 30%

    OROVILLE 

    Saying the reservoir has receded enough to handle inflows from approaching storms, operators at troubled Oroville Dam said Friday they would continue to dial back releases from its cracked main spillway in hopes of easing pressure on the Feather River and levees downstream.

    —————–

    In addition to relieving pressure on downstream channels, DWR is hoping that dialing back the punishing flows on the damaged main spillway will allow cranes and barges to safely operate in the channel below. The aim is to start digging out a massive pile of concrete, trees and other debris that has accumulated in the channel since the main spillway fractured. The debris has clogged the channel below the dam, raising water levels to the point that its power plant ‚Äď the dam‚Äôs primary release outlet outside of flood season ‚Äď can‚Äôt operate.

    (source)

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  • Fri, Feb 17, 2017 - 8:41pm

    Reply to #35

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4703

    Re: discharge slowed

    peterkuykendall wrote:

    OROVILLE 

    Saying the reservoir has receded enough to handle inflows from approaching storms, operators at troubled Oroville Dam said Friday they would continue to dial back releases from its cracked main spillway in hopes of easing pressure on the Feather River and levees downstream.

     

    About those slowing flows…I’m wondering if it’s that as the water level gets closer to the spillway finally elevation if the water pressure has not reduced enough to slow the flow?
    Less ‘head’ and less pressure = lower flow?
     

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  • Sat, Feb 18, 2017 - 1:01am

    #36
    richcabot

    richcabot

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    Posts: 198

    Who Will Be Blamed if the Oroville Dam Fails?

    https://mises.org/blog/who-will-be-blamed-if-oroville-dam-fails

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  • Sat, Feb 18, 2017 - 2:44am

    Reply to #35

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 691

    Looks Under Human Control

    cmartenson wrote:

    About those slowing flows…I’m wondering if it’s that as the water level gets closer to the spillway finally elevation if the water pressure has not reduced enough to slow the flow?
    Less ‘head’ and less pressure = lower flow?

    Chris,
    If that were the case, the discharge flow rates would be smoother rather than stair stepped as shown in the graph in post #55. It looks like it is being controlled by opening/closing the spillway gates. I question the precision that their outflow numbers imply. 69854.0 implies that their margin of error is less than 0.1 CFS (about a gallon per second.)
    Grover

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  • Sat, Feb 18, 2017 - 5:54am

    #37

    Cold Rain

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 26 2016

    Posts: 302

    Problems Everywhere

    Hearing reports of other dams beginning to experience pressure. There are numerous reports of flooding, power outages, sinkholes, mudslides, and trees down throughout the state.  Looks like several more storms are still on tap before they get a break.  This would be a really bad time for a strong quake out there.

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  • Sat, Feb 18, 2017 - 1:50pm

    Reply to #14

    Wendy S. Delmater

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2009

    Posts: 1418

    rhare, no offence

    I wrote:

    For what it’s worth, I’m a ¬†retired safety engineer. OSHA is necessary.; there are employers who would put their workers at extreme risk. ¬†And the regulations go through a review process where industry weighs in.¬†

    You disagreed, but you did not spend you career trying to protect people from criminally negligent employers. I ran a home improvements business before that, and now I am a small business owner, doing profitability consulting. So I see this from both sides.
    Of course OSHA does not get to be one of your categories. It’s obviously not the employee, the employee, or the consumer. But then neither are the police. I’m not so libertarian that I think we need no government, nor am I so conservative that I think the market does not need regulated. So it is, here.¬†
    Every last one of the OSHA regulations was written in someone’s blood.¬†
    The marketplace does have a place in this process beyond review of regulations: you keep hurting or killing your employees and your worker’s compensation insurance rates or lawsuits will put you out of business. But really, the review process kills all manner of stupid ideas. The six-month comment period for new OSHA regs allows vigorous discussions¬†from affected industries as well as safety engineers.¬†The¬†bullsh*t regulations that still make it through this process get tossed by the courts.¬†
    How does all this apply to the situation at Oroville? Maybe some sort of oversight is needed to see that Federal funds meant for maintenance of structures like the dam get used for that purpose. Make THAT a regulation under, oh, I don’t know..the Department of Energy or Fish & Wildlife – I don’t care who. Then give the regulations teeth. People’s lives are at stake.¬†

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  • Sat, Feb 18, 2017 - 9:35pm

    #38
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Now down to 55,000 CFS

    (source) They continue to step it down.

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  • Sat, Feb 18, 2017 - 9:41pm

    Reply to #37
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Cold Rain wrote:Hearing

    Cold Rain wrote:

    Hearing reports of other dams beginning to experience pressure. There are numerous reports of flooding, power outages, sinkholes, mudslides, and trees down throughout the state.  Looks like several more storms are still on tap before they get a break.  This would be a really bad time for a strong quake out there.

    Current conditions (source)

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  • Sat, Feb 18, 2017 - 11:47pm

    Reply to #14

    rhare

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    Wendy you missed the point.

    You may think these regulations are great and that’s a choice you have to make. ¬†The point was you need to understand that you are using violence against others to enforce your choices. ¬†You can wrap it in as much “save the children” propaganda as you want, but ultimately, all of these regulations are enforced by men with guns. All of us need to understand that fact.
    Now, you may make the choice to says it’s worth it, but I would say if you are not personally willing to use violence against another for these regulations, then you shouldn’t be asking someone else to use violence for you. ¬†Understanding this make you much more likely to work things out in a voluntary manner. ¬†To promote community and good behavior by example, communication, non violent methods such as supporting those businesses that do it right.

    Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

    Every last one of the OSHA regulations was written in someone’s blood.¬†

    Lots of things in life are. ¬†People make stupid decisions and it kills sometimes. ¬†That’s learning. ¬†But it I would counter that a best practices documents are just as effective as these regulations. ¬†Business owners don’t want employees to get hurt, it makes it harder to recruit labor, it makes it expensive if you want to carry insurance (voluntary¬†– not the force by the state “unemployment insurance”), and results in worker turnover which is terribly unproductive. ¬†
    I would also argue that these regulations often have the opposite effect. ¬†As a business owner I get to do the bare minimum because I’m protected by claiming I did all that was required rather than what might be right or better. I get to push off responsibility to someone else, which is also a side effect.
    Then on top of it, you have the fact that regulations don’t stop bad actions. Just look at all the laws and regulations against murder, theft, fraud, yet we still have all those things. The places that have some of the strongest laws have them the worst. ¬† The state does not improve things but it sure does spend a lot of resources making us think it does.
    This dam is a prime example, there are tons of regulations regarding how dams are built, how they are supposed to be maintained, etc, yet here we are and we are going to get to see no one held responsible. ¬†Are we going to see all those managers, bureaucrats, and politicians held responsible? ¬†How about the safety inspectors who didn’t do their job and prevent this, are they all going to prison? ¬†They certainly took a lot of taxpayer money and I would say have committed fraud.

    Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

    ¬†Then give the regulations¬†teeth. People’s lives are at stake.¬†

    I agree, so here is another way to look at it.  In the OSHA case, you think they should take money from all of us (via taxation).  So in return do we get to hold OSHA responsible?  If an OSHA inspector inspects a business and then that business does something wrong, do we get to hold the OSHA inspector responsible?  If not, why not?  If you promote stealing from me against my will and claiming you are going to save me, I think I should get to hold you responsible.
     

     
    Or how about we stop stealing from people to build projects like this. ¬†It might not have ever been built because it’s easy to do unsustainable, bad things when it’s other peoples money. ¬†At least if was a private entity we would have someone to criminally charge. ¬†Someone who was directly responsible that would pay. ¬†At most we will see some low level flunky get fired and a huge tax increase to deal with this mess. ¬†No lessons will be learned.

     

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 12:09am

    #39

    rhare

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    Waiter - can I have different conversation?

    Wendy S. Delmater wrote:

    How does all this apply to the situation at Oroville? Maybe some sort of oversight is needed to see that Federal funds meant for maintenance of structures like the dam get used for that purpose. Make THAT a regulation under, oh, I don’t know..the Department of Energy or Fish & Wildlife – I don’t care who. Then give the regulations teeth.

    From Mises article linked by richcabot wrote:

    As The Mercury News has reported, 12 years ago, both California and federal officials refused to consider a demand that California heighten precautions and maintenance standards at the Oroville Dam. In response to the demands, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said the dam’s emergency features were perfectly fine and that the emergency spillway “was designed to handle 350,000 cubic feet per second and the concerns were overblown.”

    So it turns out ¬†FERC¬†was regulating it. ¬†Not exactly wanting me to continue more of the same. ¬†Why I bring up these topics, it’s time to at least start having a different conversation.

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 5:19am

    #40

    thc0655

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    Oroville crime report

    http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/a-rundown-of-all-the-people-who-took-advantage-of-their-neighbors-during-the-oroville-evacuation_02192017

    There’s a lot to worry about when a disaster strikes your community. You have to make sure that your friends and neighbors are going to be okay. You have to make sure that you have plenty of food, water, and medical supplies. You may even have to prepare to evacuate your home and leave most of your valuables behind. And while you’re focused on making sure that you and your loved ones are prepared to ride out that disaster, you can rest assured that there will always be some predatory person in your community who is preparing to take advantage of your situation.
    That‚Äôs the ugly truth about disasters, natural and man-made, that everyone needs to understand. When everyone else is panicking or gathering supplies or hunkering down or running away, there‚Äôs always someone watching the chaos and thinking ‚Äúthere‚Äôs an opportunity for me here.‚ÄĚ
    And that’s a pretty good lesson to be learned from the Oroville evacuation that occurred last week. While every sane person was fleeing the city, a few were busy screwing over their neighbors. Most notably, a 33-year-old man was severely injured after his truck was hijacked at gunpoint.

    Authorities are looking for two people accused of carjacking and running over a man preparing to flee from Oroville when authorities ordered nearly 200,000 people to evacuate.
    Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea says the victim was loading his vehicle with the engine running when a man and woman armed with a shotgun jumped in, running him over as he attempted to stop them.
    Honea says the victim was flown to a hospital with serious injuries. Authorities said they are seeking 27-year-old Cody Bowles and 31-year-old Lucia Ripley…
    According to the Oroville Mercury register, there were multiple looting incidents which have led to the arrests of five different people. Several hours after the evacuation order was given, two people were arrested for breaking into a Dollar General store. Another two individuals were arrested for looting a local market, one of whom was a 16-year-old carrying a shotgun. A fifth individual was arrested after he tried to steal a gun safe from a residence, and drive off with it in a four wheeler. During the evacuation there were a total of 240 911 calls, many of which were for crimes in progress.

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 9:54am

    #41
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Government severely misjudged strength of Oroville emergency

    Government severely misjudged strength of Oroville emergency spillway, sparking a crisis

    ‚ÄúThere is no way to rationalize running water down a hillslope with deep soils and a forest on it and weak bedrock,‚ÄĚ said Jeffrey Mount, a UC Davis emeritus professor of geology and expert on California water.

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 9:58am

    Reply to #37

    Cold Rain

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    Don Pedro

    Pretty, thanks for the map/data re: lake levels.  Don Pedro looks full!

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 10:14am

    #42
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Financial plays on the possible Oroville failure

    I’ve been talking with a friend who used to run a hedge fund. ¬†He’s well connected in that world. ¬†I asked him who would be the winners and losers, and how to play this out financially. ¬†It’s possible that there’s money to be made here because the risk may not be priced in. ¬†As hard as it is to believe, some people trust the government that all will be OK.
    Here’s what I came up with and his responses. ¬†Please contribute your thoughts and suggestions. ¬†Somebody is going to make a ton of money when this thing fails, it might as well be us.
    Insurance companies

    Clearly there will be tremendous losses when properties get flooded. This may be a shorting opportunity.
    Matt: Find a California-only insurer, that way they don’t have the benefit of a national risk pool, as State Farm does. ¬†Don’t pick the biggest or stongest¬†one, you want a 3rd tier company, one that’s not well positioned to survive a big hit.
    REITs that own safe apartment buildings

    Matt: Every apartment within 20 miles of the flood zone will be immediately filled with displaced residents. ¬†Rents will go up shaply, but only as leases expire. ¬†This is typically a 1 year term, but people’s leases expire every month. ¬†Therefore it will take a year to fully incorporate the new high rent rates, but it will start happening immediately and continuously until all of the old leases are renewed at the higher rates.
    Replacement power producers

    Matt: California routinely cheats on their own emissions standards. ¬†The 819 MW (1,490 GWH annually (source)) will be replaced by burning natural gas, very likely in-state due to the cheating. ¬†If they adhered to their CO2 rules they would import the power from Arizona and Nevada, but that likely won’t happen.
    Agriculture

    As with the prior 4 years of drought, there will be haves and have-nots.  The have nots (junior water rights holders) will get nothing, going bankrupt.  The haves (senior water rights holders) will enjoy much higher crop prices with relatively stable costs, because they continue to give away the remaining water far below free market prices.  My brother who lives in Hanford (south of Fresno) says that the Oroville water supplies farmers further south.  He is looking into who will be the winners and losers when the Oroville water goes offline.
    What else?

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 10:31am

    #43
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Storage change graph

    Net inflow minus net outflow. (source) You can see the rate of reduction slowing as the discharge is slowed over the last few days, along with recent rain.

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 11:04am

    #44
    Ted March

    Ted March

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    Finally, intelligent discussion of Oroville. Thank you.

    Finally, some intelligent discussion of the Oroville Dam crisis. Instead of ¬†the moronic blame-it-on-Mexicans nonsense going around. The engineering discussion is great. Thank you. As an aviator I can relate to the cranky pessimist approach to risk that was spoken of. I don’t like flying with overly optimistic pilots : -) ¬†“The history of aviation safety is written in blood” is one of our sayings too. (I saw it stated in the context of this topic earlier.)

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 12:36pm

    #45

    Grover

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    We Have Dodged A Very Serious And Big Bullet

    Juan Browne puts out a very low budget update of Oroville dam conditions daily. He combines older video and current website screen shots with his commentary. He has a good pulse of the problems being faced. This video is just under 8 1/2 minutes and well worth the time to watch. He says he will get Press credentials soon and be able to get access to the dam and authorities. I certainly hope so!
    Grover

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 12:54pm

    #46

    sand_puppy

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    Oroville Dam Main Spillway Video from today

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 2:12pm

    Reply to #46

    Chris Martenson

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    Re: Oroville Dam Main Spillway Video from today

    Sand Puppy – as I look at that video I notice two things:
     
    The water is muddier than before. ¬†Less clear…yellowed…so there seems to be continued or renewed erosion?
    The gap that water chewed looks a LOT larger.  

    That’s going to be a very big hole to fill!
    But the unclear water worries me the most.  I wonder if the reduced spillway volumes were due to bets being  hedged?  
    Maybe fingers crossed for less rain, while trying to slow some new erosion that was worrying?
    Just guessing here…

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 2:28pm

    Reply to #46
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Fascinating and disturbing

    Note that almost none of the water is making it all the way down the spillway.  The vast majority is going out the breach on the south side, across the eroded hillside, down to the river below.  Also you can see yellow material in the water cascade, indicating further erosion.
    According to the DWR realtime Oroville dam data page, the main spillway is still flowing at 55,000 CFS, the same as it has been doing for about 24 hours now.
    The beeping is good, that indicates that equipment is working at the base (camera vantage point), presumably to clear the debris so they can restart the power plant and avert any flood damage to same from an overly high water level in the tail race.
    Hopefully once they get the power plant going again they can resume the 100,000 CFS flow down the main spillway, on the assumption that it’s eroded everything that can be eroded at that flow rate (but the yellow water belies that). ¬†That would get the lake down to the level of the main spillway intake quickly (813.6′). ¬†From there the power plant can drain 14,000 CFS and make 819 MW. ¬†That will allow the lake to be drained as much as possible before the next big rains and / or snow melt hit and refill it.

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 2:39pm

    Reply to #45
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    Grover wrote:Juan Browne

    Grover wrote:

    Juan Browne puts out a very low budget update of Oroville dam conditions daily. He combines older video and current website screen shots with his commentary. He has a good pulse of the problems being faced. This video is just under 8 1/2 minutes and well worth the time to watch. He says he will get Press credentials soon and be able to get access to the dam and authorities. I certainly hope so!
    Grover

    That’s excellent, thanks very much for posting it.

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 4:17pm

    #47
    Peter Kuykendall

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    Underrated risk root cause - fraud

    Part of my job is threat modeling & risk analysis. ¬†For many years I’ve been noodling around with the idea that any big, capital-intensive project carries with it a unique risk, that of fraud. ¬†I believe that’s virtually ignored, overlooked, or at minimum heavily discounted when risk assessments are performed.
    For example, at Oroville the cost of mitigating the risk of either spillway was large, so the incentive to cover it up, ignore it, downplay it, etc. was big.  The risk therefore persisted.
    At Fukushima, the same thing happened.  The risk was that the spent fuel rods absolutely had to be kept submerged, yet they were stored far above ground, where a leak would leave them uncovered.  By contrast, the diesel emergency generators absolutely had to be kept dry, yet they were positioned at the lowest point, susceptible to flooding.  The cost of mitigating these risks was high, both in dollars and reputation damage, so they persisted.
    I believe that this is something that needs to be discussed among all interested stakeholders and added to the formal risk assessment protocols.  Has anybody heard of any efforts in this direction?

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 4:51pm

    #48

    Grover

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    Cautiously Optimistic

    Water behaves in weird ways sometimes. By reducing the flow, the water velocity also gets reduced. As a result,¬†the water falls¬†will impact the rocks in the breached spillway¬†area in a slightly¬†different location. The bedrock experiences a different force profile. It doesn’t surprise me that there is more temporary erosion. The water is running yellow rather than chunky brown. Although not good, it ain’t bad either.
    As I understand it, the goal is to get the reservoir down to 850′. That gives them freeboard of 50′ for flood water storage. Once they’re down to that level, they will need to adjust the outflow to match the inflow. That may be why they’ve reduced the spillway flow over time.¬†Once they’ve reached their goal, they may reduce flow drastically to give equipment access to clean up¬†the debris in the river channel. They may even cut off the spillway completely to get a look at the spillway breach¬†and ascertain the likely damage¬†that more than 100K CFS flows would cause.
    We’ll wait and see.
    Grover

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 4:56pm

    Reply to #46
    DennisC

    DennisC

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    "Thars Gold in them thar hills!!!"

    Saddle up buckaroos before the new nation on the west coast no longer issues visas to non-citizen gold prospectors (i.e. y’all from the other 49 states, or is it 54, I can’t recall).

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  • Sun, Feb 19, 2017 - 4:56pm

    #49

    Wendy S. Delmater

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    interesting spillway designs

    When looking at spillway designs my husband and I ran across the work of Viktor Schauberger. The man is not an ace at everything, has a bit of cult following, and much of what he suggests is not verifiable but modern engineers still use some of his designs. (The guy was involved in the 3rd Reich so, not real popular but some–only some–of the science seems sound.) He also designed log flumes based on the principle that water tends to make vortices due to the shear force cause by the differences in flow velocities and directions… caused by temperature, friction, and pressure.
    The basic concept is that you put something down the center of the spillway to minimize or eliminate cavitation to lessen stress on the spillway. 
    That spillway design is interesting, and patented. http://www.rexresearch.com/schaub/schaub.htm
    A design-in-use  based on one of his concepts. hyperbolic funnels, can be seen here http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/18/glory-glory-water-spills-into-glory-hole-at-lake-berryessa/

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  • Tue, Feb 21, 2017 - 9:54am

    #50
    Peter Kuykendall

    Peter Kuykendall

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    14 up-close photos show how work is going at Lake Oroville

     

     

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  • Wed, Feb 22, 2017 - 3:15am

    #51
    Peter Kuykendall

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    Juan Browne video update Feb 21

    The debris at the base of the main spillway has formed a dam that has raised the level of the water below the power plant outlet by about 20 feet. ¬†That’s driving the need to clear the debris to enable restart of the power plant and outflow of 14,000 CFS via that path.

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  • Wed, Feb 22, 2017 - 11:33am

    Reply to #51

    Grover

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    Unsung Reporters

    Peter,
    Thanks for posting that video. Why is it that a one man organization can transmit such in-depth and understandable coverage of the problems facing Oroville dam … while all the news agencies produce such worthless drivel? That’s why I don’t waste my time following MSM news. Give me a story by Juan Browne any day.
    Grover

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  • Wed, Feb 22, 2017 - 8:03pm

    #52

    suziegruber

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    Interesting Article on Atmospheric Rivers

    I just found this interesting article on atmospheric rivers.
     

    This is also worrisome, since reconstructions of historic flood events ‚ÄĒlike the Great Flood of 1862 ‚ÄĒ as well as a simulation of what would be a devastating flood both involved many weak to moderate atmospheric river events hitting in rapid succession; the same thing that’s happening now.¬†
    Noah Diffenbough, a climate scientist at Stanford University, says California’s wet winter demonstrates how we’re already hitting the limits of water infrastructure that was designed in a completely different climate.

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  • Thu, Feb 23, 2017 - 12:44pm

    #53

    Grover

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    Yesterday's Juan Browne Fix

    Juan Browne update video for 2/22/2017. This one is only 4 minutes long. He shows that Lake Oroville’s¬†inflows and outflows are about matched. The reservoir water surface¬†elevation¬†is remaining around 853′. He also talks about other reservoirs upstream of Oroville. Essentially, he just pointed them out and said that they are used primarily to produce electricity – not for water storage. None of these dams/reservoirs are showing any problems.
    Grover

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  • Mon, Feb 27, 2017 - 1:45pm

    #54

    Grover

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    Finally, Some Good News

    Here is Juan Browne’s latest video dated 2/27/2017. The weather is finally cooperating. It looks like 7 days of dry weather is ahead. The reservoir elevation is down to ~ 838′ which gives them at least 60′ of storage. So, they’re going to shut of the spillway and excavate the debris (from the blown out spillway) so the tail water to the power plant can be lowered. After the new power lines are installed, the power plant can be operated again.
    Grover

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  • Mon, Mar 27, 2017 - 12:43am

    #55
    Peter Kuykendall

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    Damage, design flaws in spillway point to lengthy repairs

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article140390898.html

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  • Mon, Mar 27, 2017 - 11:32pm

    #56

    Grover

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    Location, Location, Location

    Here’s a 5 minute¬†(silent) video showing computer simulations¬†of dam breaches¬†on flooding extents downstream of the Oroville Dam. There were evaluations of a complete collapse and 2 partial collapses. The flooding in the central valley varies considerably. This technology should be available to every dam operator.¬†If I lived downstream of a dam, I’d want to see similar simulations to see how bad it needs to get before it directly impacts me. (I wonder if nuclear power plant operators do similar computer simulations.)
    Grover

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  • Sat, Apr 08, 2017 - 9:29am

    #57

    Grover

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    Spillway Repair Concept Announced

    Here is the latest 15 minute video from Juan Browne (on the Blancolirio channel.) The DWR has announced their plans to rebuild the spillway. (un)Surprisingly, the new design is quite a bit like the old design. They will rebuild the entire spillway to modern standards. The upper portion will be given top priority. They plan to fill the part of the newly formed canyon under the spillway with roller compacted concrete (RCC.) Because of time limits, they want to have enough capacity in the spillway to handle 100,000 CFS by November 2017. Next year, they will build side walls higher so that it will ultimately be able to carry 270,000 CFS.
    DWR preselected 4 construction companies to submit bids for their designs. The deadline for bids is next week (4/12/2017.) One of the bids will be selected by 4/18/2017 and a notice to proceed will be given shortly thereafter. Of course, the best laid plans are still subject to the weather and snow melt. DWR is currently expecting 2 more events where the busted spillway will be used this spring.
    DWR will also reinforce the emergency spillway. They presented conceptual designs, but haven’t determined the extent of each feature yet. That may be part of the contractor’s bidding process to submit final proposals. The goal is never to need to use the emergency spillway; however, it needs to be ready – just in case.
    As of this posting (4/8/2017 10:00 AM PDT,) the reservoir was at 851.60′ elevation with a strong storm in place. Juan expects about 4″ of water in the high country. A few more of these would throw a monkey wrench in the works. I hope their contingency plans are robust enough to handle potential changes.
    Grover

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  • Sat, Apr 08, 2017 - 9:33am

    #58

    Grover

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    Duplicate

    I really hate Mollom (the spam gate.)

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