Oroville Dam spillway repair costs jump to $500M
- The estimated costs to repair the Oroville (CA) Dam spillways, damaged by excessive winter rains earlier this year, have risen from $275 million to at least $500 million, according to The Mercury News.
- Kiewit, which is overseeing the restoration of both the main and emergency spillways, said once crews were able to adequately assess the damage, which necessitated evacuating 188,000 people in February, they discovered the work required digging deeper than anticipated to reach bedrock, in addition to pouring double the concrete.
- Work is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2018, but crews expect to have enough finished by Nov. 1 to ensure the main spillway can carry up to 100,000 cubic feet per second in time for the coming winter. The state has requested that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pay for 75% of the repairs, with state and local water districts picking up the balance of the costs.
A string of disasters affecting the U.S. this summer, in addition to the Oroville spillway failure last winter, have strained FEMA's budget. In response, lawmakers increased funding to the disaster relief agency by $15 billion to help pay for costs associated with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The bill also raised the federal debt ceiling and extended the potential for a government shutdown to Dec. 8. The measure included $7.4 billion for relief community block grants, $7.4 billion for direct disaster-related funding and $450 million for small business disaster loans.
However, President Trump signed that bill before Hurricane Nate made landfall along the Louisiana and Mississippi coastlines and before Hurricane Maria devastated the American territories of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. FEMA has also dispatched workers to Northern California to provide relief to businesses and residents who suffered damages from wildfires, which have yet to be fully contained. As of last Thursday, according to the Los Angeles Times, fire-related insurance claims had already reached $1 billion.
The House earlier this month authorized an additional $36.5 billion in aid for those affected by the recent wave of disasters, including an extra $18.7 billion for FEMA. The Senate is expected to vote on the bill today.
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter