Design and General Plan of Oroville Spillway

Oroville Crisis

Our hearts and best wishes are with the thousands of people in harm’s way, and we thank the many agencies, community groups and everyday people who are coming together to help them. Twelve years ago, Friends of the River warned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and others that the unarmored spillway at our nation’s tallest dam was a clear and present danger.

Photo: Unknown/Sacramento Bee.

They should have listened. Saying “I told you so” doesn’t help the thousands of people who are in harm’s way. Having these agencies look in the rear-view mirror and say “you were right” in hindsight is not our goal and it’s certainly not enough. This time, we trust our words will not fall on deaf ears.

We have always seesawed between periods of drought and extreme precipitation that can lead to biblical flooding in California and climate change is making these shifts more severe.

We need action! To ensure a safe and reliable water system that protects communities and the rivers that flow through them FOR launched our Point Positive campaign to promote innovative 21st century water solutions that diversify our water system and work with nature instead of against it.

You can Point Positive by supporting this campaign today. 
Beyond providing FOR with financial support,
your membership gives us political clout
and generates grassroots activism that helps us get results.

Join us!

Point positive: Advocating for Solutions

FOR is pursuing four approaches for flood control and water management actions that protect communities and the rivers that flow through them:

1) Identify unsafe dams and levees and shore them up or decommission them. The state should review other dams for dam-safety and flood-control performance issues and then mobilize resources to address their deficiencies. Meanwhile, dams such as Daguerre Point on the Yuba River in Yuba County, Searsville on San Francisquito Creek in San Mateo County and four on the Klamath River should be decommissioned.

2) Invest in flood-control projects that work with nature to maximize public safety as with the Yolo Bypass — it is the only reason Sacramento wasn’t evacuated on Sunday night. Notching or setting back levees reduces flood risk downstream, replenishes our depleted groundwater, and creates habitat for fish and wildlife.

3) Advance sustainable and efficient water supply solutions that reduce risks associated with over-relying on dams for both flood control and water supply. The Pacific Institute, an independent water policy organization, found that California could save up to 14 million acre-feet a year of untapped water through water-saving practices, recycling and storm water capture. Realizing just 10 percent of this potential would increase our water supply by at least twice as much as the new dams under consideration.

4) Stop encouraging development in floodplains below dams or behind levees, and encourage or help people move away from unsafe floodplains.

As our climate changes we must learn to work with nature, instead of against it, by giving rivers more room to safely roam and making sure our existing water infrastructure is safe. This approach increases public safety and groundwater recharge while providing habitat for fish and wildlife and open spaces for outdoor recreation.


Key Documents

RS bio (2017)