By Chloe Freed
Nearly 200,000 people evacuated Oroville, Calif., on Feb. 12 upon hearing reports of the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway failing, according to Fox News.
The emergency spillway, which is used to prevent any overflow caused by rain, had a hole in the concrete, according to CNN.
This was the first time the dam’s emergency spillway was used since its construction, Los Angeles Times reported.
Constructed in 1968, the Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the U.S. However, due to neglected maintenance, the infrastructure has began to crumble and wear away, according to CNN.
Due to ongoing and heavy rains, workers were unable to drain a large amount of water to alleviate pressure. As a result, the water level in the dam rose 50 feet and began to spill over the brim, The Mercury News reported.
Residents who live downstream of the dam have been allowed to go back to their homes. However, with the unpredictability of the dam’s structure, another evacuation may be ordered, according to The Huffington Post.
To fix the problem, the California Department of Water Resources has reduced the rate of the water released so debris can be removed, according to Los Angeles Times.
Employees have been working overtime for about two weeks to put rock, aggregate and cement into the eroded spillways, according to Los Angeles Times.
Fixing water storage infrastructure is an ongoing issue. Environmental groups have feared that the spillways would malfunction for the past 12 years, according to CNN.