12 years ago, federal and state officials, along with some of the state's biggest water agencies, ignored concerns that the massive spillway at the Oroville Dam was at risk of collapse.
They didn't just ignore the warnings, they flat out rejected them.
Three environmental groups, The Friends of the River, the Sierra Club, and the South Yuba Citizens League, filed a motion in October 2005 calling on federal officials to require that the dam's spillway be covered in concrete.
The spillway was instead left as an earthen hillside.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected that request after the State Department of Water Resources, and the water agencies who would have to pay for the upgrades, said they were unnecessary.
Those agencies included The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides water to us.
They didn't want to foot the bill to make the dam safe, and now look at the result. But they're perfectly okay with screwing us when it comes to water rates!
Well that rare event that everyone said wouldn't happen happened over the weekend, and water flowed over the dam's emergency spillway for the first time in its 50-year history.
Ron Stork, policy director with Friends of the River, was horrified as he watched the emergency spillway at risk of collapsing. He was warning about this exact event in 2005:
"We said 'are you really sure that running all this water over the emergency spillway won't cause the spillway to fail?' They tried to be as evasive as possible. It would have cost money to build a proper concrete spillway. I'm feeling bad that we were unable to persuade DWR and FERC and the Army Corps to have a safer dam."