New Dam Safety Regs. for CA

California Governor, Jerry Brown, has signed into law a bill that will strengthen dam safety in the state.

California Assemblymember James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) introduced the bill last year, following the Oroville Dam’s failure on Feb 13th, 2017, that prompted the use of the emergency spillway that resulted in the evacuation of nearly 200,000 residents living downstream and structural damage to flood control infrastructure. More than 500 feet of water filled the tower and spilled from the pipes for weeks.

Effective immediately, AB 1270 will require the state Department of Water Resources to work with independent dam safety and risk management organizations to update dam safety protocols and to inspect all dams classified as a “significant” hazard or higher at least once every fiscal year.

The safety protocols must address deficiencies identified by the forensic team that investigated the Oroville Dam failure, including a comprehensive review of the original design and construction of dams and spillways, Gallagher noted in a news release.

The new law says the department must inspect dams that are “low” hazard, meaning their failure would not put lives or property at risk, at least once every two fiscal years. It says the inspection reports must be made available for public review.