California water chief: Oroville emergency spillway worked

The head of California’s water agency is defending the emergency spillway at the nation’s highest dam saying it worked despite extreme erosion that led authorities to order the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people.

The acting director of the Department of Water Resources, Bill Croyle, briefed a legislative committee on Tuesday about the state’s response to the severe damage found at the Oroville dam.

Croyle’s assertion that the spillway worked surprised many at the meeting, including Republican state Assemblyman James Gallagher who represents Oroville. Gallagher says the erosion exposed a design flaw in the dam.

Water flowed over the emergency spillway for the first time in February after a series of storms inundated the area and damage to the main chute limited options for officials.

Croyle also found himself answering questions about details of the $275 million contract set to shore up the emergency spillway and the damaged main spillway in time for the next rainy season.

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