California Governor Signs Dam Safety Bill

The bill's author, Assemblyman James Gallagher, said the new law will ensure "that California leads national and global efforts to update and modernize dam safety requirements."

One year after heavy rains severely damaged the Oroville Dam's flood control spillway in northern California, forcing an emergency evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that will strengthen dam safety in the state. Effective immediately, AB 1270, authored by Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), will require the state Department of Water Resources to work with independent dam safety and risk management organizations to update dam safety protocols and to inspect all dams classified as a "significant" hazard or higher at least once every fiscal year.

The safety protocols must address deficiencies identified by the forensic team that investigated the Oroville Dam failure, including a comprehensive review of the original design and construction of dams and spillways, Gallagher noted in a news release.

The new law says the department must inspect dams that are "low" hazard, meaning their failure would not put lives or property at risk, at least once every two fiscal years. It says the inspection reports must be made available for public review.

"The Oroville disaster jeopardized lives, property, and California's water supply and conveyance system. The silver lining is that the crisis highlighted we must do more to ensure we are taking care of vital infrastructure, like the levees and dams that protect our communities. AB 1270 will help us do this by ensuring that California leads national and global efforts to update and modernize dam safety requirements," said Gallagher.

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