Last year at this time we were worried about a major leak at the Oroville Dam Spillway as the first reports of the spillway itself eroding came as we knew the water had been held too high putting everyone in possible danger.
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea kept an eye on the very large hole growing in the spillway, and the Department of Water Resources assured him they were watching it, the rest is history.
We were sent packing with maybe an hour's notice under a mandatory evacuation which took us from our homes and our jobs for a minimum of three days in most cases. Over 180,000 citizens of Butte and Sutter Counties were under a mandatory evacuation for three days.
A year later, much work has been completed to the tune of $870 million cost at last report and numerous large lawsuits such as from the City of Oroville and primarily for farmers who lost not only land, but trees, cattle, hay and structural damages to homes.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey announced Wednesday that his office has filed an Environmental Action against DWR for environmental damages to the Feather River caused by their operation of the Oroville Dam and its associated spillways. Ramsey announced at a noon press conference Wednesday that the breakup of the main spillway which began one year ago on February 6, 2017 has led his office to civilly prosecute DWR under one of the state's oldest environmental laws enacted in the 1870's to combat pollution of the state's rivers.
"Civil penalties can range upwards of $51 billion for the 1,700,000 cubit yards of soil, concrete and other material dumped into the Feather River," a press alert read.
Luckily, one year later, we are experiencing wonderful spring-like weather with temperatures in the 70's, very different from last February when the rains brought added stress as Oroville Dam reached record levels.
This year, we can be happy to have very different circumstances although we will never forget February 12, 2017.