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More than 600 high-risk dams in CA do not have an approved emergency plan, report says

Editors note: A previous version of this article said Oroville Dam did not have an approved emergency plan. Below a PDF shows that the Oroville Dam does have an approved plan.

Posted: Jan 31, 2020 1:01 PM
Updated: Jan 31, 2020 3:16 PM

Editors note: A previous version of this article said the Oroville Dam did not have an approved emergency plan. Below a PDF shows that the Oroville Dam does have an approved plan.

OROVILLE, Calif. - A new report from the California State Auditor shows that there are more than 600 high-risk dams in the state, that do not have approved emergency plans.

The report criticizes two state agencies - The Department of Water Resources and the Office of Emergency Services - for not doing enough to ensure public safety.

When the Oroville Dam's spillway nearly failed three years ago, it created massive traffic jams as 180,000 people tried to flee from the Feather River and today some who experienced that incident wonder if an emergency evacuation plan even exists.

RELATED: Voices of Oroville: One year after Oroville Dam Spillway Crisis

"I'm not aware of a plan. I have my own plan," said Yuba City resident, Sharon Smith. "My own plan is this time I'll stay home. Last time I was stuck in traffic. It should have taken me two and a half hours to travel to Orland to my brother-in-law's house and I was in traffic for six hours."

A new state audit released Thursday, Jan. 30 reveals dozens of dam owners failed to submit flood maps to the state.

The audit also finds only 22 of 400 emergency plans submitted have actually been approved by the office of emergency services. The Oroville Dam is one of the dams that does have an approved plan.

OES disputes that, staying under statute, Cal OES has 60-days to review a completed emergency action plan with approved inundation maps and return it for revisions to approve. There are currently no EAPS under review at Cal OES that have failed to meet that 60-day deadline.

RELATED: Oroville Dam Spillway Crisis: One Year Later

The Department of Water Resources is responsible for approving flood maps.

In a statement, the DWR said its division of safety of dams "is updating its inspection protocols to identify previously unknown safety risks and work with owners to mitigate those risks."

Read the approval letter for Oroville Dams emergency action plan below:

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