Oroville Dam spillway devastation, ruined hillside, clogged river revealed after water flow is stopped
The California Department of Water Resources has temporarily shut down a power plant at Oroville Dam to make improvements that will increase its capacity for releasing water, officials announced Saturday.
The Hyatt Power Plant initially stopped functioning when a massive mound of concrete, earth and debris formed in the channel below the dam’s 3,000-foot concrete spillway, which fractured Feb. 7. State officials were able to get it working again Friday, but it was not pumping water fast enough.
Officials turned off the plant at 10 a.m. Saturday and began efforts to deepen the channel at the base of the plant, which will allow for increased releases. They expect the shutdown to last one to two days.
On Friday, the plant released about 1,750 cubic feet per second, far below its capacity of 14,000 cfs. Releasing water through the plant is important because the dam’s main spillway is impaired, with a huge crater funneling water down an adjacent hill. Officials have halted flows down the main spillway during recent dry weather to clear debris.
“We will dig deeper so we can fully ramp the plant up,” said Bill Croyle, DWR acting director.