FEMA Rules Large Portions of Oroville Dam Spillway Repairs Ineligible for Federal Reimbursement

Mar 7, 2019
Press Release
(Washington, DC) – Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved $205 million in federal funds to reimburse costs for the Oroville Dam spillway repairs, but deemed $306 million in spillway reconstruction as not eligible for federal reimbursement.
LaMalfa said: “FEMA’s decision not to fully reimburse DWR for Oroville Dam spillway repairs should not come as a total surprise. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Independent Forensic Report have both cited insufficient maintenance and initial design flaws as playing a part in the failure of the spillway. FEMA has reimbursed the state for eligible emergency repairs, but repairs due to maintenance failures as well as the new structures being built are ineligible for federal reimbursement legally. Meanwhile, California prioritized other spending initiatives, such as high-speed rail, over fixing deficiencies of Oroville Dam that led to this crisis, and FEMA is likely to withhold future public assistance funding as a result. That will prove to be a costly mistake. We don’t want FEMA to come up short on other disaster assistance by misapplying funds in this case of dam mismanagement, born out in the forensic report.”
Over a year ago, an Independent Forensic Team found DWR had many maintenance failures that helped contribute to the failure of the spillway. FEMA is not allowed to reimburse for disasters caused by negligence or maintenance failures. Much of the needed work on the Oroville Dam spillway is not repair work, but new projects to make the emergency spillway and upper spillway work properly. Those new projects cannot be funded by the federal government under an emergency declaration.
Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.