California governor signs bill to form Citizens Advisory Commission for Oroville Dam

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill into law that authorizes formation of a Citizens Advisory Commission, intended to provide a forum to discuss issues related to Oroville Dam.

SB-955 Oroville Dam: Citizens Advisory Commission was signed Aug. 18. This bill was introduced in January 2018.

The legislature says this bill “provides stakeholders with the opportunity to gather at a regularly appointed time to discuss maintenance, findings, reports, and upcoming actions, and to conduct other communications regarding operations, maintenance, and public safety actions at the site.” This is needed because “the residents in the communities most immediately affected by Oroville Dam and its delivery of resources bear the risk of any potential natural or manmade disaster as well as daily operations at the dam.”

This seven-member commission, within the Natural Resources Agency, would consist of specified members of state agencies or their designees, with the secretary of the agency serving as chairperson. In addition to the named members, the chairperson may request the participation of other state agencies if particular expertise or input is warranted. The chairperson also shall invite 12 other people to be members of the commission, and their positions are specifically named in the bill.

The California Department of Water Resources, which operates and maintains Oroville Dam, would provide the commission with onsite tours of the dam and its grounds, as well as all information reasonably requested regarding the construction, rehabilitation or reconstruction, operation, maintenance and management of the dam.

The commission will meet “as necessary” to carry out its purposes and duties, which are set forth in the bill. The commission will be required to publish a report at least once every three years that provides, among other things, an overview of ongoing maintenance and improvements made at the dam and its site.

The commission is prohibited from “making regulations or rules to bind operations at the dam.”

In a recent update, California DWR said its updated cost estimate for the Oroville Spillways Emergency Recovery Project is $1.1 billion through completion of the project in 2019. The department is working to meet a Nov. 1, 2018, milestone of fully reconstructing the main spillway.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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