The sheer amount of debris can be seen from aerial photos released by the California Department of Water Resources this week.
The DWR closed the main spillway on Monday so that they could fully evaluate the extent of the damage, and remove an estimated 1.5 million cubic yards of debris displaced by the break, more than enough to fill the 68,000-seat Houston Astrodome.
Environmental groups had questioned the suitability of the emergency spillway back in 2005, when they asked federal regulators to require California to build a sturdier structure.
The potential catastrophe at the Oroville Dam's emergency spillway comes as absolutely no surprise to Ron Stork. Now that the water has stopped being released from the dam, another problem has popped up for the salmon and other fish downstream.
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"That is certainly the goal", she said. The plant helps manage reservoir levels.
-Workers in California began removing debris from a damaged emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam on Monday, in the first step toward resolving an emergency that led officials to evacuate some 200,000 residents from areas downstream on February 12.
Water levels reached their highest point on February 11, at a frightening 901 feet, which flooded the spillway and prompted a three-day evacuation. California Department of Water Resources acting director Bill Croyle said the spillway can only remain shut off as long as water levels remain at a level they consider safe.
On Feb. 11, water managers used the emergency spillway for the first time in the dam's history after a chunk of concrete tore out the main spillway.