FEMA approves additional $205 million in reimbursements for Oroville spillway incident

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has received notification that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved an additional $205 million in federal funds to reimburse the state for spillway reconstruction costs related to the 2017 Oroville Dam spillways incident.

The latest reimbursement is based on cost estimates DWR provided last summer. DWR will provide updated cost estimates in the coming weeks and anticipates additional reimbursements will be approved.

These funds are in addition to $128.4 million FEMA previously approved for reimbursement for emergency response, debris removal and other costs.

FEMA also notified DWR that it does not consider some spillway reconstruction to be eligible for reimbursement based on information submitted by DWR to date. New agencies are reporting that FEMA disallowed $306 million of the cost for this reason.

DWR says it will work with FEMA to provide further information to support the department’s assertion that all reconstruction work should be eligible for reimbursement.

“We appreciate the hard work and commitment of FEMA staff, however are disappointed in some of their initial interpretations regarding cost eligibility,” said Joel Ledesma, DWR deputy director of the State Water Project. “Our reconstruction work was necessary to safely operate the main spillway and ensure functionality of the emergency spillway. DWR plans to appeal FEMA’s determination as we believe all costs should be eligible for federal reimbursement.”

FEMA’s Public Assistance program reimburses applicants at least 75% of eligible costs associated with a federally declared disaster. 

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