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As emergency spillway flows, ....

• By Dale Kasler and Peter Hecht

For the first time since Oroville Dam was completed in 1968, water from its storm-swollen reservoir overtopped the emergency spillway Saturday, sending sheets of water down a forested hillside and adding to the murk and debris churning in the Feather River below.

State officials said they did not expect the flows to cause flooding in Oroville or other communities downstream, but the emergency releases underscored the perilous situation confronting the operators of California's second-largest reservoir for the rest of this extraordinarily rainy winter.

Unable to release enough water from the dam's 3,000-foot main spillway, which split open Tuesday and continues to erode, the California Department of Water Resources announced that stormwaters reached the top of the dam at around 8 a.m Saturday and began flowing over the concrete lip of the adjacent emergency spillway onto a wooded ravine below.


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