Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Oroville Dam evacuation order disrupts farming in affected area

Evacuation of a large swath of land downstream from Oroville Dam during the weekend caused logistical headaches for farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses within the affected area, while Department of Water Resources crews worked to head off a feared failure of the emergency spillway at the dam. Officials ordered evacuation of low-lying areas near the Feather River on Sunday, after water in the reservoir eroded the emergency spillway. The evacuation order was lifted Tuesday. Jamie Johansson, California Farm Bureau Federation first vice president who grows olives near Oroville, said local officials acted quickly. "You kind of see the power of the water behind the dam should there be a catastrophic failure as they were describing it (Sunday) around 5 o'clock," he said. "I can't tell you how important local officials become." Colleen Cecil, executive director of the Butte County Farm Bureau, said flooding was nothing out of the ordinary so far. "There hasn't been extreme flooding," she said. "I think it's normal flooding along the Feather River that folks are experiencing right now." Cecil said it was too early to assess damage. "Right now, there's standing water in orchards," she said. "Almond bloom has started. It's in the very early stages. These sunny days in between these rainstorms get bees really happy, and we're going to see almond bloom here much sooner rather than later. Hopefully, pollination won't be impacted, but that is definitely an area that we're watching." Crops that could potentially be affected if the situation worsens include cling peaches, prunes, walnuts, almonds, olives, kiwifruit and possibly rice...more

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