Oroville Dam's Senator Jim Nielsen Says DWR Must Do Better

Friday, January 5, 2018

Today, the Oroville Independent Forensic Team released its final investigative report on what caused the Oroville Dam spillway failure in February 2017. Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama), who represents Oroville and the surrounding communities, issued the following statement:

“From my initial review of the nearly 600 pages of the independent report, it confirms our suspicions. The most important factor exposed by the report is the need to change the culture of the Department of Water Resources. There must also be more transparency to build trust with our community.

“We have a sustained neglect of addressing problems that should have been anticipated such as the deficiency of the geological composition on which the spillway was originally laid.

“I am not opposed to giving DWR a license. But we must not give a 50 year license to a dam operator – DWR – until they have addressed the deficiencies at Oroville Dam and implemented changes in their organizational culture to ensure more transparency with the community.

“And it is clear that making improvements to the state’s infrastructure was not a priority. There was insufficient oversight of the dam, and communications with the community and local officials was also insufficient.

“That is why I, along with Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) and Assemblyman Gallagher (R-Yuba City), asked that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission delay the issuance of a new license for the Oroville Dam until the issues identified in the forensic report and our community’s concerns are addressed.

“It is important to fully review the details of the report. It is more imperative than ever for FERC to delay the issuance of a new license until we understand the forensic team’s findings and their implications moving forward. DWR must do better for our community.”