In a newly released technical memo, the Department of Water Resources has detailed explanations for the hundreds of cracks in the brand new Oroville Dam Spillway.
The department's position all along has been that these cracks are fine, it's a normal occurrence, and there is nothing to worry about.
They’ve finally released pictures of the cracks, and their explanation isn't sitting very well with Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly.
In the report, the DWR points out several possible causes for the hundreds of cracks along the new, never before used main chute, including autogenous, thermal, and plastic shrinkage.
The report says these were observed randomly, with the average one being between .01 and .3 millimeters, which is less than the thickness of a finger nail.
It states that cracking was anticipated due to the highly restrained nature of the spillway panels, which are anchored to the foundation below.
“I don't think it's fatal, I believe the engineers would say that just because of the fears of a failure, but I believe that it points to the fact that their earlier explanation was just a snow job,” said Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly.
He believes the DWR has a culture of keeping things from the public and one that lacks transparency.
“I believe it's just ingrained in their culture to cover their ass and give a superficial explanation to something, when the truth is so much easier. ‘Look, we made a mistake, there's superficial cracking and we're going to take care of that during maintenance,’ I’ll accept that every day,” he said.
Last week, the DWR held a community meeting in Oroville.
“The Department of Water Resources actually stated to the public that these superficial cracks were necessary to have strong concrete. She stated that it's not your patio or your driveway, and she didn't do this once, but twice,” he said.
Connelly says that's simply not true, as he used to work on heavy construction jobs himself.
He also said the vast majority of the people in his district still don't trust the DWR.
If you’d like to read the report, click here.