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Deconstructing Oroville

Instead of owning up to the reality that maintenance of infrastructure has been neglected, the new spin is that it just shouldn't have been built in the first place.

May 15, 2017

Oroville Dam is one of the key elements of California's State Water Project.  It is the tallest dam in the U.S. serving us with water supply, flood control and hydroelecticity.  It has done its job for 60 years.  But, was it all just a big mistake?  The Sacramento Bee in the article below says then California Governor Pat Brown "misled voters about the State Water Project’s costs, ignored recommendations to delay Oroville’s construction and brushed aside allegations that substandard building materials were being used at the dam."  They go on to say he brought an "almost evangelical zeal", was "hell-bent on building", had "engineering hubris", and it led to a  "lethal arrogance". 

Maybe he just wanted to build a dam.

It is our view that the former Governor, our current Governor's father, was a visionary.  He could see the growing population of the state and the need to get water from the North to the South.  The project has served the state well for all these decades.  But now the problems at Oroville, which we believe are part of a lack of maintenance vision on the part of the current administration, not only with dams, but noticeably with roads and bridges, are being scapegoated.  Instead of owning up to the reality that maintenance of infrastructure has been neglected, the new spin is that it just shouldn't have been built in the first place.

If there were problems with the design and construction of Oroville, the state has had 60 years to fix them, but has done nothing.  Now their story is that maybe it was all a misguided vision in the first place.  

Maybe President Kennedy was also wrong when he came to the Valley in 1962 to dedicate the San Luis Dam.  The Fresno Bee reported "Water projects don't just happen, Kennedy said prior to the groundbreaking. "They are made to happen." The president also praised the entire state for working together to make California more productive by building the water project. That statement would be instructional for today's California, which is at odds over sharing water."


 

‘Lethal arrogance’? Oroville Dam crisis sprang from Pat Brown’s towering ambition

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