OROVILLE, Calif. – Per the Butte County Sheriff’s Office, evacuation orders have been reduced to warnings effective at 1:00 p.m. Tuesday.
Due to lower lake levels, further inspections, ongoing work to shore-up the Oroville Dam emergency spillway and updated weather forecasts, the evacuation order for the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident has been reduced to an evacuation warning. Any resident displaced by the evacuation may return home at 1:00 p.m., however all residents are advised to remain vigilant and prepared as conditions can rapidly change.
In the image below you will see what looks to be undermining of the are of the dam used for emergency water discharge.
More rain is expected to start tonight and continure through the rest of the week.
People who have special needs or require extended time to evacuate should consider remaining evacuated.
An evacuation warning means the immediate threat has ended but potential for an emergency remains and therefore residents must remain prepared for the possibility of an evacuation order.
The decision to reduce the immediate evacuation order to an evacuation warning is based on a number of factors including;
Lower Lake Levels: With the rate of release through the primary spillway remaining at 100,000 cubic feet per second over the last two days, the lake level has dropped 15-feet below the top of the auxiliary spillway and no longer has water flowing over the top. This mitigation work will reduce the risk of erosion should the emergency spillway have to be used again, although flow through the primary spillway will continue to attempt to lower the reservoir to 851 feet (approximately 50 feet below full).
Further Inspections: With the water level reduced, geologists and dam safety engineering specialists from the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers were able to inspect the damage. That inspection revealed that the integrity of the emergency spillway was not compromised by the erosion.
Ongoing work to shore-up emergency spillway: To prevent further erosion the DWR is lining the front of the spillway with boulders and concrete. That work is expected to be completed tomorrow, ahead of the forecasted stormy weather.
Updated weather forecasts: The decision has taken into account updated weather forecast. The storm expected later this week is forecasted to be colder, with less rain and therefore a lower level of water flow into the reservoir than last week.
An evacuation center will remain open at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. All other evacuation centers supported by Butte county will be closed. Residents from other centers who are still seeking shelter due to the evacuation warning can go to the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds.
Residents who evacuated animals to the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds should collect their animals as soon as possible if returning home. Large animals can remain at the evacuation center, but owners are advised to secure an alternative location for animals that is outside the area under the evacuation warning.
Owners are required to find transportation to get animals home or to alternate locations. A strict animal release protocol will be adhered to at the Silver Dollar Fairground. Animal owners must have photo ID and pink copy of the animal intake form.
Disabled residents who need assistance with transportation should call 530-342-0221 for para-transport. Local agencies and medical facilities are determining when patients can be returned to evacuated hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.