It comes as no surprise that the City of Oroville has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Water Resources following the release of a 584 page investigation into the Oroville Dam Spillway incident last February when over 180,000 Butte and Sutter County residents were told to evacuate.
This long-term systemic failure, brought on by years of DWR ignoring problems first noted after the dam was built in the 1960's, brought DWR into the forefront and since last February DWR has hired their fourth Director, the third after Bill Coyle who was Director last February.
Karla Nemeth has been named as the new Director for DWR. Nemeth has served as the senior advisor for water policy at the California Natural Resources Agency since 2014.
As reported in The Sacramento Bee, Nemeth is married to Tom Philp, an executive strategist with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. His duties are reported to be overseeing the State Water Project, which delivers water from Northern California to the southern half of the state, and forging ahead with Governor Jerry Brown's controversial Delta tunnels project, according to the January 19, 2018 Sacramento Bee.
DWR has been at the forefront of blame since the February evacuation and was named by the team who prepared the 584 page report as the reason the spillway failed when DWR placed more importance on the delivery of water to Southern California than the residents who would be so severely impacted by the spillway failure.
As promised since February the extensive repairs for Phase I were completed in November last year in time for this year's winter rains but one thing is certain, the people will never rest easy when it comes to the dam and the spillway as the February 12, 2017 anniversary nears when thanks to a very alert Sheriff Kory Honea we were sent from our homes to safer ground. Never again will we take the dam and the spillway for granted.
As Sheriff Honea told the Gridley Rotary Club last March, a month following the evacuation and reported in the March 15, 2017 Gridley Herald, "On February 7 a very strange situation occurred. A massive hole was discovered in the flood control spillway releasing water. Water was spraying up, they thought out of a big hole at the time.
"I received a call asking about a hole and when I called DWR they said they were performing routine maintenance inspections at that time.
"I was then shown a picture that had appeared on social media and told my people 'this doesn't look like routine maintenance."
The story continued explaining that Sheriff Honea got hold of DWR Director Bill Croyle who said they were trying to figure it out.
"They couldn't release enough water in the spillway and knew it was going to go over the emergency spillway," the Sheriff continued in his presentation.
As was reported later, it was Sheriff Honea who deserved the credit for the evacuation and jumped into action to make sure the people of Butte and Sutter Counties were warned.