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City Of Oroville To Sue State Over Losses Due To Dam Emergency

CADWR / Facebook

This aerial view looks east toward Oroville Dam and Lake Oroville, showing the damaged spillway with its outflow of 100,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) at the Butte County site. Photo taken February 15, 2017.

CADWR / Facebook

UPDATED Jan. 18, 2018, 7:29 a.m.

The State of California is starting to get hit with lawsuits stemming from last February's Lake Oroville spillway crisis.

The city of Oroville announced its suit against the state on Wednesday, marking the start in a series of similar legal moves.

It seeks reimbursement for damaged infrastructure and evacuation expenses following the failure of the main spillway and potential collapse of the emergency spillway.

It also claims the crisis has been a heavy blow to the city's economy and tax base.

Mayor Linda Dahlmeier said the suit could lead to improved dam safety nationwide.

"My hope is it's a bigger conversation that it just improves how the operation of not only this dam, but public facilities such as the Oroville Dam are managed," Dahlmeier said.

An independent forensic analysis of the crisis showed 50 years of missteps, including a combination of poor design, complacent management, and insufficient response to the spillway's failure were all factors.

Attorney Joseph Cotchett said all of the expected lawsuits by farmers, communities, and individuals could top a billion dollars.

The Department of Water Resources says it can not comment on pending litigation.

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