The newly reconstructed main spillway of Oroville Dam was opened April 2, returning it to normal operation for the first time since February 2017, when record winter rains in California increased the reservoir level to its full 901-foot capacity and severely damaged it and the emergency spillway (WPW No. 3 [6.1]; 4 [6.2])
A cumulative $1.1 billion has been spent to date on emergency response and repairs after the spillway failures, but the final tally could be higher, as the state has ongoing expenses.
Finishing touches are still needed on the emergency spillway, and the California Department of Water Resources said it is evaluating other modernization work that might be necessary to ensure the continued safety and functionality of the entire complex.
DWR expects the federal government, not the state, to pay the bill. Officials contend the State of California should be fully reimbursed for all emergency response and recovery work, some of which is continuing.
The state is in the process of appealing Federal Emergency Management Agency repayments, saying it should be reimbursed the full amount rather than the roughly $333.4 million that has been approved.