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California orders closer look at dams after Oroville crisis – including 7 in our region

Crane Valley Dam at Bass Lake is among seven dams in eastern Fresno County that are under state orders to have a reinspection of their flood-control spillways following the Oroville Dam crisis.
Crane Valley Dam at Bass Lake is among seven dams in eastern Fresno County that are under state orders to have a reinspection of their flood-control spillways following the Oroville Dam crisis. Fresno Bee file

California officials have ordered owners of 93 dams to reinspect their flood-control spillways following the Oroville Dam crisis, including seven in eastern Fresno County.

The dams at Shaver, Huntington, Edison and Florence lakes, owned by Southern California Edison, are on the list released Thursday by the Department of Water Resources. So are Crane Valley Dam (which creates Bass Lake), Courtright Dam and Wishon Dam, which are owned by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

Large dams on the list include New Exchequer, which creates Lake McClure on the Merced River, and Don Pedro Dam on the Tuolumne River, which contains the sixth-largest reservoir in California.

The 93 dams represent less than 10 percent of the 1,250 dams overseen by the Department of Water Resources’ dam safety division.

DWR said the probes were ordered in recognition of the emergency at Oroville, which prompted a mass evacuation, and the fact that California’s dams are 70 years old on average.

Preliminary assessments showed each of the spillways on the list “may have potential geologic, structural or performance issues that could jeopardize its ability to safely pass a flood event,” according to letters the dam-safety division sent to the dam owners. “Therefore, we are requesting that you perform a comprehensive condition assessment of the spillway as soon as possible.”

DWR officials have been notifying the owners of the affected dams since June. The complete list was released Thursday by the agency.

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