SACRAMENTO — The California Department of Water Resources would be required to beef up dam inspections under a bill sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday, a year to the day after spillway failures at Oroville Dam prompted evacuation orders for an estimated 188,000 people.
The state Assembly unanimously gave final approval to the bill requiring annual inspections for dams deemed to pose high or significant hazards -- the great majority of California dams. The rating is based on the size of the reservoir behind each dam and the number of people who live downstream, not the dam's condition.
The measure, AB 1270 by Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, also sets standards for inspections and requires the DWR's Division of Safety of Dams to consult with independent experts to update dam safety measures every 10 years. The bill requires that inspection reports be available to the public, with certain sensitive information withheld if it creates a security risk.
Gallagher was among those who evacuated when officials feared an uncontrolled release of water from overflowing Lake Oroville on Feb. 12, 2017. The evacuation was ordered after the dam's main spillway failed catastrophically and the adjacent emergency spillway suffered severe erosion.