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Governor to consider bill mandating regular inspections of state's most risky dams

Flickr/Harold Litwiler
Santa Barbara County's Gibraltar Dam is rated high risk.

On the one-year anniversary of the Oroville Dam evacuation order, California lawmakers have sent a dam safety bill to Governor Jerry Brown. 

Three-quarters of the 1,250 dams subject to California’s dam safety program would fall under the new annual inspection requirement. 

On the Central Coast, those include Gibraltar Dam near Santa Barbara and Lopez, Whale Rock and Nacimiento dams in San Luis Obispo County. In Monterey County, the dams most at risk are San Antonio and Las Padres. 

The measure would also require dam owners to test critical spillways every year – and demonstrate their full operability in front of state dam safety inspectors every three years, or whenever asked. 

Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher and his young family were among the nearly 200,000 people forced to evacuate downstream from the Oroville Dam last year. He said his bill would require the state to inspect each dam classified as significant or high hazard once every fiscal year dams

“Prior to this, the statute said dams shall be inspected ‘from time to time.’ I’m sure you can all agree with me that was not sufficient language," Gallagher said to his lawmaker colleagues.

As an urgency bill, it would take effect immediately should the governor sign it.

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