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Oroville Lake Levels Drop; Spillway Work Continues; Officials Prepare For Rain

Brian Baer/ California Department of Water Resources

Heavy equipment operators dig access points to the river below Oroville Dam to allow access to remove the sediment at the base of the spillway on February 17, 2017.

Brian Baer/ California Department of Water Resources

Update 3:58 p.m.: California Department of Water Resources officials say they are continuing to reduce outflows down the Oroville Spillway to clear debris from the diversion pool

Lake levels continue to drop, officials say. Water outflows were reduced from 80,000 cubic feet per second to 70,000 cubic feet per second Friday.

Update 1:30 p.m.: (AP) — A California lawmaker wants to require more spillway inspections in the wake of evacuations prompted by damaged spillways at the country's tallest dam.

Assemblyman Marc Levine announced the legislation Friday.

Days earlier, nearly 200,000 people were evacuated for fear the emergency spillway at Oroville Dam in Northern California would fail.

The San Rafael Democrat is seeking to require annual physical inspections for all auxiliary spillways on state-managed dams.

Officials diverted water to the Oroville Dam's emergency spillway over the weekend after severe erosion damaged the main spillway. The emergency spillway had never been used.

Levine called visual inspections of the dam "not good enough" and said physical inspections are essential for public safety.

Original Post: Officials say the water level at Lake Oroville has dropped 45 feet since last Sunday, when fear of an emergency spillway failure forced nearly 200,000 people downstream to evacuate. Crews continue to work on shoring up the emergency spillway to prevent further erosion.

The California Department of Water Resources says it is hoping to bring the lake level down to 850 feet. Water flows over the emergency spillway when the lake level reaches 901 feet.

On Friday evening, the Department of Water Resources announced it was reducing flow over the dam's main spillway to 70,000 cubic feet per second -- down from 100,000 cfs at the height of the emergency. The agency says lowering the flow will allow crews access to remove debris at the base of the damaged spillway.

According to Saturday morning's official report, outflows from the lake continue to exceed inflows -- meaning the lake level should still be dropping. But officials continue to monitor the situation closely as storms pass over the area. A storm expected to arrive Sunday night will bring heavy rain to northern California and is likely to increase inflows to the lake.

Officials encourage residents of Butte and Yuba counties to be prepared for an evacuation. An evacuation warning is still in place.

More information on evacuations can be found at the links below:

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