2018 – What Happened at Oroville Dam and Why – Findings of The Spillway Incident Forensic Investigation

John W. France, Irfan A. Alvi, Peter A. Dickson, Henry T. Falvey, Stephen J. Rigbey, John Trojanowski

On February 7, 2017, the gated service spillway (also known as the Flood
Control Outlet or FCO Spillway) at Oroville Dam was being used to release water
to control the Lake Oroville level according to the prescribed operations plan.
During this operation, the service spillway’s concrete chute slab failed, resulting
in the loss of spillway chute slab sections and deep erosion of underlying
foundation materials. Subsequently, as the damaged service spillway was
operated in an attempt to manage multiple risks, the project’s free overflow
emergency spillway was overtopped for the first time since the project was
completed in 1968. Significant erosion and headcutting occurred downstream of
the emergency spillway’s crest structure, leading authorities to evacuate about
188,000 people from downstream communities.

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