Oroville to sue state department for dam failure

Oroville to sue the state's water department after damages to the Oroville dam and spillway due to flooding in February. Image courtesy of Department of Water Resources.

Oroville to sue the state’s water department after damages to the Oroville dam and spillway due to flooding in February. Image courtesy of Department of Water Resources.

Josh Cozine

The city of Oroville filed suit against the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for damages, mismanagement and corruption Wednesday.

The DWR failed to pay an appropriate amount after the failure of the dam’s spillway last year and the resulting damages, according to Oroville City Attorney Scott Huber.

Dam Complaint
The city of Oroville cites dangerous conditions in their suit against the California Department of Water Resources. Image courtesy of Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy, LLP.

Accusations include performing inadequate maintenance with inexperienced personnel while knowing of vulnerabilities to the dam and reporting some unfinished, critical maintenance tasks as completed. Members of DWR management were also accused of stealing state property.

Huber said that previous attempts at negotiating with the DWR have proven useless.

“They refused to pay more than part of some roads damaged by their own equipment,” Huber said.

As for the cost to the city and the welfare of the more than 180,000 people who had to be evacuated, Huber said the DWR has told him they do not think they are responsible for those damages.

“The lawsuit means the DWR will have to respond,” Huber said.

Josh Cozine can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.