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FERC Role in Oroville Spillway Recovery

Independent Board of Consultants, Forensic Analysis Team Created

Oversight of the design and construction of the recovery of the Oroville spillway structures is being conducted by several entities with specialized dam design and construction expertise, including the California Division of Safety of Dams, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

View FERC documents related to the Oroville spillway incident.

Both California law and FERC require an independent Board of Consultants (BOC) to review and comment on repairs to dams. DWR has engaged a five-member BOC for the emergency response and repairs of the Oroville Dam spillways.

FERC also required DWR to create a separate forensic analysis team to investigate the potential causes of the damage to the Oroville gated flood control spillway starting February 7. To provide for an independent review, DWR contacted the Association of State Dams Safety Officials and the United States Society of Dams to propose a team that can conduct a forensic evaluation. The forensic team has been named and begun its investigation.

The forensic team is charged with determining the root cause of the spillway incident, as well as any other contributing causes. Their findings will be shared with the BOC as it advises DWR on work to recover spillway function. The recovery project may benefit from the forensic team’s analysis, and their findings may be incorporated into the recovery plans.

The process for the Oroville BOC is the same as for all other dam projects -- except this BOC must work at an accelerated pace. DWR engineers have and will continue to present information to the BOC, then members of the BOC will comment on DWR preliminary considerations and offer direction prior to DWR making final decisions and furthering design details. The BOC will remain engaged until at least one year after completion of construction and operational changes. Read more about the BOC’s role.

Safeguarding Security Information

Because dams such as Oroville are critical infrastructure, FERC regulations provide that certain sensitive details may be kept confidential. Given the nature of its work, the memos by the BOC are likely to contain specific engineering, vulnerability and detailed design information about proposed or existing infrastructure that DWR considers “critical energy/electrical infrastructure information,” or CEII, under guidelines set by the FERC.

FERC does not make public documents designated as CEII by dam owners. DWR will evaluate memos and reports by the BOC for CEII content and treat each document accordingly.

Within the bounds of security restrictions, DWR is committed to regularly updating the public on the work, findings and recommendations of the BOC and on the work to rebuild the Oroville spillways before the next storm season.