Oroville Dam Repairs $800 Million Over Budget … and Counting

The cost to repair the Oroville Dam following the failure of a spillway in 2017 has reached $1.1 billion – more than five times the original estimate of $200 million – with potential cost increases as work continues.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) revealed the new price tag September 5.

The Sacramento Bee noted the initial cost estimate was $200 million, but DWR officials said in January that the price had grown to $870 million.

DWR representative Erin Mellon said the rising costs include more money to excavate the hillside beneath the dam’s emergency spillway, road construction and removal of debris and sediment from the Feather River.

State officials contend that the federal government is expected to reimburse the state for up to 75 percent of the costs, with local water districts that store water in the reservoir covering the rest.

However, former DWR Director Bill Croyle told state legislators that the Federal Emergency Management Agency can reject reimbursement if the agency believes the crisis was caused by poor maintenance. A team of independent engineers concluded in January that poor maintenance was a factor in the emergency, along with poor design and construction.

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