"Oroville Crisis Drives Harder Look At Aging US Dams"

"One year after the worst structural failures at a major U.S. dam in a generation, federal regulators who oversee California's half-century-old, towering Oroville Dam say they are looking hard at how they overlooked its built-in weaknesses for decades.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is telling owners of the 1,700 other hydroelectric dams it regulates nationally that it expects them to look equally hard at their own organizations and aging dams, in the wake of the sudden collapse of much of first one, then both spillways last February at the 770-foot-tall (235-meter-tall) Oroville Dam, the nation's tallest.

Given that the average dam in the United States is in its 50s, like Oroville, it's critical that owners and monitors of America's 90,580 dams act on a main lesson of the near-disaster, dam officials nationally say: Is the way a dam was built in the Cold War-era or earlier good enough to protect lives in 2018 and beyond?"

Ellen Knickmeyer reports for the Associated Press February 11, 2018.

Source: AP, 02/12/2018