OROVILLE, Calif. -- Legislators pushed the California Department of Water Resources to allow local input on decisions pertaining to the Oroville Dam. Now, the DWR says they are ready to listen.
The local oversight committee gives the DWR the opportunity to interact with local leaders within the Oroville area. This is local involvement, according to Sheriff Kory Honea, that wasn't available before the Oroville Dam crisis.
For the first time, local Oroville leaders will be meeting with members of the DWR, a meeting, local leaders say, has been a long time coming.
"It's a recognition on the part of the DWR that the community has valuable input to give in regards to how the process goes forward," said Sheriff Kory Honea.
Honea said the first issues would be impacts on public safety and dam safety. Afterward, Honea said other issues such as recreation might be discussed afterward.
"We had to work through that strained relationship and that lack of positive networked communication during that incident. We've come a long way and I've been fortunate to build to develop a much better working relationship with DWR," said Honea.
Senator Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher helped spearhead the local oversight committee.
"I evacuated my own family from our home in Yuba City. Had people calling me on the phone panicked, what should we do," said Gallagher.
The committee will create an added transparency Gallagher hopes will prevent another crisis from happening again.
"I wanna get us at a place where we're gonna look at the infrastructure. We're gonna look at how this dam is operated, managed and ensure it's at the highest level, the level it always should have been at," said Gallagher.
Action News Now asked Senator Nielsen what specifically would be covered in the committee meetings.
"The maintenance of the dam and the improvements that are going to be occurring related to the dam. And then day-to-day issues related to maybe regulations they propose," said Nielsen.
Erin Mellon, Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the DWR said the DWR will incorporate the community's priorities whenever possible while keeping dam safety as a top priority.
The committee's first meeting will be held next week at the DWR Field Office in Oroville.
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