The Oroville Dam in California

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Throughout California there is a total of 1,404 dams(KQED). They can be small structures just holding back rivers and streams, or as big as lakes and reservoirs, supplying water to up to 20 different counties. Oroville dam is the largest dam in California and is located just outside of Oroville County near Sacramento.

Construction began in the dam in 1961, and it finally opened 7 years later in 1968.

The Oroville dam is a rock fill embankment dam, which means, a water barrier that is made with certain materials so that it isn’t prone to erosion or deterioration. Because the material is so heavy due to the need for a secure dam, , it creates a much stronger barrier and base to its foundation. A study was done to see if a rock fill dam is the most stable type of dam to hold the amount of water it is expected to. The study tested different types of dams stability compared to the stability of a rock fill, and ultimately found that the rock fill is completely acceptable and safe (Lei). The Feather River is the only river to feed into the dam, filling it to its total capacity of 3,507,977 acre/ft.

The Central Valley Project was a project run by the federal government with the desire to use the water coming from the Sacramento water sources and San Joaquin water sources to better irrigate and supply water to the Central Valley. The Central Valley is where most of California’s agriculture comes from and is dependent on. After World War 2, it was apparent that California needed water in many places other than the central valley because of the masses of people who began to move to California, specifically down south. In 1951, the Feather River Project was proposed. This included a dam, aqueducts, as well as pumping plants to transport...

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...y. The water in Lake Oroville only reached 39 percent of capacity. That means that California is receiving less than half of their normal rainfall in just the northern region alone. Governor Jerry Brown finally decided to step in and declare the state of California, a drought. The dam isn’t being used nearly to its capacity, causing trouble for the rest of California (Chiocer).

Earthquakes have also played a large factor in the water levels of the Oroville Dam. In 1975, there was a 5.7 magnitude earthquake near Oroville County. Since the quake happened, they notices that water levels were decreasing when the lake was emptying its water, and less likely to happen while it was full. It is almost a consistent pattern of 7 years that this has been occurring, and it shows that the depth of the water at Lake Oroville controls earthquakes (Martin). Because earthquakes

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