Oroville Dam Response

Oroville Dam Response

Oroville Dam Response

In January 2015, HDR was awarded a master dam safety services contract by the California Department of Water Resources, Dam Safety Branch, to provide engineering services throughout the State Water Project.

On February 7, 2017, the DWR had a failure at its main spillway at Oroville Dam. At 235 metres high, Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States and serves mainly for water supply (1 trillion gallons of water), hydroelectricity generation and flood control.

In just over three days, we mobilized 50 staff and numerous offices across the U.S. conducting services around the clock, 7 days a week to support the DWR mission at the dam. Our role focused on monitoring and reporting various elements of the Oroville Dam Spillway Emergency Response project as an extension of DWR’s Dam Safety Branch, reporting up through DSB and the Incident Command structure.

The primary objective of our monitoring activities at the flood control outlet was to provide data and information regarding the condition of the spillway structures and erosion areas as input for emergency response decision-making by DWR. Not only were we tasked with monitoring the Oroville Dam, but monitoring of the Oroville-Termalito Complex (a group of facilities and structures around the City of Oroville), including the Thermalito Diversion Dam to observe and report any possible large debris, typically logs, that could affect gate operations and dam safety. 

During the monitoring effort, we led staffing, scheduling, resourcing, and safety for 150 staff, including 26 rotating positions (52 staff per day). Our support to DWR’s DSB included around-the-clock coverage for several months for all monitoring positions, including Chief Monitoring Engineer, Monitoring Lead, Monitor, Roving Monitor, Safety Lead and Coordinator, Communications, Data Analysis, and Reporting. Our staff included engineers, inspectors, construction experts, and safety advisors who covered all aspects of geology, geotechnical, structural, civil and scour elements.

Oroville Dam Response
California Department of Water Resources

Butte County, CA
United States