Apr 19, 2017 01:15 AM EDT
Recent reports have indicated that the damaged spillway has been reopened despite damage due to the number of rainstorms affecting areas in Northern California. Opening the spillway will lower the levels of water on the dam to prepare for the coming storm season. This is so that the critical level of water will not be exceeded in the event that strong, continuous rains will pour over the region.
The local government has decided to keep this spillway of the damaged Oroville dam open for up to at least two weeks but the duration would still depend on how much rainfall is experienced by the region, according to a report from the LA Times.
There are reports that opening the spillway was a critical decision of choosing between a lesser evil. One option is to let water pour from the damaged Oroville dam despite the damage to ensure that no further damage will happen to the dam. This is to ensure that the dam will not be containing water beyond its critical point during its damaged state. Or, to let the dam be closed but allow it to collect water with the possibility of collapse should heavy rains occur.
A report from The Atlantic has discussed that this damage on the dam was primarily caused by the rapid and extreme changes in season experienced over the last few decades. During this time, the region has experienced severe drought to very heavy rains in a matter of months giving no time for the damaged Oroville dam to adjust between its dry and saturated state. The problem is that this seems to be an unavoidable issue as dam designers and controllers cannot control the weather. However, new contractor that will rebuild the said dam has promised to provide an extensive review and design of the damaged Oroville Dam.
However, there are still threats posed from reopening a damaged spillway. In the event that the spillway will collapse at this time, it will mean that all residents living in the communities around the dam shall be evacuated.