The Oroville Dam in California is the largest embankment dam in the United States and is primarily operated for water supply, hydroelectric power generation and flood control. In February 2017, the Oroville Dam spillway failed during an unusually wet rain season. The incident led to mass evacuations of the downstream areas over concerns for imminent collapse of the dam, affecting more than 180,000 people. Operation of the dam after the spillway failure resulted in large controlled water releases causing occasional high river flows and elevated river levels, and erosion of the riverbanks and flooding of adjoining agricultural lands. River flow conditions from the “Oroville Dam Incident” led to engineering questions about the magnitude and extent of seepage through river levees and beneath the adjacent lands.
This presentation examines engineering challenges associated with modelling of downstream levee seepage conditions resulting from the Oroville Dam Incident, focusing on the impacts of varying river hydrographs on surrounding agricultural lands.