SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The cost of dealing with repairs and other issues stemming from last year’s near-disaster at the nation’s tallest dam in California has climbed to more than $1 billion, officials said Wednesday.
Construction costs and related expenses are the primary drivers behind the increase at Oroville Dam, about 160 miles northeast of San Francisco, the state Department of Water Resources said.
In January, the department estimated the costs would total $870 million.
More workers were recently hired to get the repairs done by the expected onset of wet weather beginning on Nov. 1, department spokeswoman Erin Mellon said. Unforeseen excavation costs also added to the increase.
Both spillways at the 770-foot earthen dam collapsed in February 2017, forcing nearly 200,000 people downstream to evacuate.
Officials feared the dam was on the verge of a catastrophic failure that would send uncontrolled and massive waves of water south into populated areas.
The lake’s waters receded before that occurred and residents were allowed to return home within days.
The department said it has so far received $87 million from the federal government to help with the response. Another $45 million is expected.
The department plans to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay for 75 percent of the repair costs after the project is finished. The rest would be borne by State Water Project customers