Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

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Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby freezeblade » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:23 pm UTC

http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/13/us/orovil ... index.html

Evacuations have been on and off for the areas near the emergency spillway for the Oroville dam in north-central California, the tallest dam in the united states. This is one of the thousands of maintenance deferred dams in the US, the total cost of fixing the most critical hovering just over 50 billion (http://www.damsafety.org/media/Document ... ts2009.pdf). This is still just a drop in our aging infrastructure.

How should we deal with this?
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby HES » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:28 pm UTC

Image

What else can be done other than pump money into it? For roads, and I presume this extends to other infrastructure, it costs far more in the long run to keep a barely-servicing road operational than it would to properly repair it. You just have to spend money to save money.

The only other option is to accept that, occasionally, dams and bridges are going to fail. And face the consequences.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:53 pm UTC

California


How about those guys stop having their tax-dollars decided by propositions and actually let their elected leaders have the ability to fund projects they deem fit?

2/3rds of the legislature needs to approve a budget, while a proposition initiated by dumbass citizens can force the Governor to pay for insane projects that waste money.

The leaders of California have the most difficult time out of all the States in creating budget measures. Its easier to pass a Filibuster in the US Senate than to pass a budget in California!

EDIT: It looks like the 2/3rds rule was finally abolished in California in recent years. But they're still going to have to deal with the fallout of that dumb rule.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Liri » Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:52 pm UTC

I didn't know that about CA and taxes. Has it actually led to any serious problems, though? The state seems to be doing OK, on the whole.

Regarding infrastructure, the thing I get annoyed by most often is not burying phone and electric lines to begin with, and especially not burying them after they've been downed by storms 4 or 5 times in the past 10 years. It's *relatively* minor next to damn, bridges, and roads, but still!
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:01 pm UTC

Can't bury lines where it freezes, or where there's earthquakes and since we are doing away with regulation and having fun fracking, we're going to have earthquakes everywhere.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby CelticNot » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:12 pm UTC

Fantastic Idea wrote:Can't bury lines where it freezes


... you know, I never considered that. Why is that? Is it simply because if there's a break in the line, you won't be able to reach it until the ground thaws? Or does the ground freezing noticably deform the lines and risk breakage?

Living in Alberta, I'm used to phone and electric lines being strung up on poles most of the time. It never occurred to me that in winter, pipes (up to and including water mains) can break, but the wires will generally be okay unless you get an ice storm.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Thesh » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:14 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:
California


How about those guys stop having their tax-dollars decided by propositions and actually let their elected leaders have the ability to fund projects they deem fit?


This wasn't because of that; they were going to fix it, but it was blocked because it would have been paid for as part of the water, and most of the people impacted by that rate increase did not live near the dam so they declared the repairs unnecessary.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ » Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:42 pm UTC

CelticNot wrote:
Fantastic Idea wrote:Can't bury lines where it freezes


... you know, I never considered that. Why is that? Is it simply because if there's a break in the line, you won't be able to reach it until the ground thaws? Or does the ground freezing noticably deform the lines and risk breakage?

Living in Alberta, I'm used to phone and electric lines being strung up on poles most of the time. It never occurred to me that in winter, pipes (up to and including water mains) can break, but the wires will generally be okay unless you get an ice storm.

Yeah basically. frost heaves can put a lot of stresses on underground cables.
Though truly the reason we haven't buried the grid even where it doesn't freeze is because it's too expensive to expand/upgrade the systems when the population they serve inevitably grows.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:00 am UTC

Fantastic Idea wrote:Can't bury lines where it freezes, or where there's earthquakes and since we are doing away with regulation and having fun fracking, we're going to have earthquakes everywhere.
Speaking as a telco employee in Canada, that's utterly and absurdly incorrect. We bury copper and fiber lines all over the place - basically, if it's not rock or permafrost, we'll put a line in it. Buried is the default for greenfield construction - for coax, for copper phone lines, for fiber, for power, and obviously for gas and water - and has been for a few decades, for last mile, distribution, and transport connections. We have essentially zero issues from frost heave - far far fewer issues than we have from, for example, squirrel chews on our aerial cable. The major drawback is installation cost, and to a lesser degree susceptibility to issues in wet weather (though fiber is pretty immune to that, too).
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Liri » Fri Feb 17, 2017 2:07 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:
Fantastic Idea wrote:Can't bury lines where it freezes, or where there's earthquakes and since we are doing away with regulation and having fun fracking, we're going to have earthquakes everywhere.
Speaking as a telco employee in Canada, that's utterly and absurdly incorrect. We bury copper and fiber lines all over the place - basically, if it's not rock or permafrost, we'll put a line in it. Buried is the default for greenfield construction - for coax, for copper phone lines, for fiber, for power, and obviously for gas and water - and has been for a few decades, for last mile, distribution, and transport connections. We have essentially zero issues from frost heave - far far fewer issues than we have from, for example, squirrel chews on our aerial cable. The major drawback is installation cost, and to a lesser degree susceptibility to issues in wet weather (though fiber is pretty immune to that, too).

okay cool I didn't think it sounded right but I didn't have any personal experience to back it up

yeah, no sitting administration (at town, state, federal w/e) wants to be the one to bear the upfront costs
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby sardia » Fri Feb 17, 2017 4:56 am UTC

Liri wrote:
PhoenixEnigma wrote:
Fantastic Idea wrote:Can't bury lines where it freezes, or where there's earthquakes and since we are doing away with regulation and having fun fracking, we're going to have earthquakes everywhere.
Speaking as a telco employee in Canada, that's utterly and absurdly incorrect. We bury copper and fiber lines all over the place - basically, if it's not rock or permafrost, we'll put a line in it. Buried is the default for greenfield construction - for coax, for copper phone lines, for fiber, for power, and obviously for gas and water - and has been for a few decades, for last mile, distribution, and transport connections. We have essentially zero issues from frost heave - far far fewer issues than we have from, for example, squirrel chews on our aerial cable. The major drawback is installation cost, and to a lesser degree susceptibility to issues in wet weather (though fiber is pretty immune to that, too).

okay cool I didn't think it sounded right but I didn't have any personal experience to back it up

yeah, no sitting administration (at town, state, federal w/e) wants to be the one to bear the upfront costs
The bigger issue is that people don't like the idea of their ground being dug up, public or private. It's the same reason our water pipes are aging so badly.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby jewish_scientist » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:57 pm UTC

What I always found weird about the government not supporting infrastructure projects is that they create so many jobs. Every politician since the recession has sworn to increase the employment rate and then ignored the easiest way to do that. It does not take that much training to learn how to pour concrete or lay asphalt and it is literally impossible to outsource, so it should be very attractive to former factory workers. In comparison to other government projects, infrastructure repairs do not even cost that much money. The results are immediate and tangible, two things that politicians love. There is barely any risk involved, especially when just repairs are being done. I just do not understand why the government does not fix our (in some cases literally) crumbling infrastructure.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby ucim » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:12 pm UTC

I suspect part of it is that the opposing party does not want to see the currently-in-power party succeed at anything.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Feb 17, 2017 6:42 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:What I always found weird about the government not supporting infrastructure projects is that they create so many jobs. Every politician since the recession has sworn to increase the employment rate and then ignored the easiest way to do that. It does not take that much training to learn how to pour concrete or lay asphalt and it is literally impossible to outsource, so it should be very attractive to former factory workers. In comparison to other government projects, infrastructure repairs do not even cost that much money. The results are immediate and tangible, two things that politicians love. There is barely any risk involved, especially when just repairs are being done. I just do not understand why the government does not fix our (in some cases literally) crumbling infrastructure.


I made a suggestion in 2007 to my state's Senators that the best way to fix the economy and fix our infrastructure at teh same time was to re-start the CCC and the WPA.

Another suggestion that was made in this forum was to move the HQ of Cabinet-level agencies to affected areas - Dept of Labor goes to Detroit, Dept. of Agriculture goes to Des Moines or Omaha, Dept of the Interior to West Virginia, etc. Instant infrastructure spending, plus job growth, plus the idiots in charge can see first hand the effects they have on the local economies, as well as de-concentrating power in the Washington/NYC corridor. I see no downsides for this project, except the possibility of regulatory capture, except that we already have full regulatory capture as it is (Goldman Sachs, Exxon-Mobile, etc running the Cabinet of 45).
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:08 pm UTC

So how about "wherever is deemed the most in need of a government department's efforts, via the latest available annual figures, that department sets up its HQ there - until a more needy location is identified". If, as you would have it, the DoL goes to Detroit and does not move on to another location for years, it must face questions about why not. If it moves one year and then has to move back, it must justify why (the non-Detroit area was a blip that was easier to solve?) or face the task of defending against accusations of not leaving behind suitably established local assistance when moving on from Detroit, or perhaps even of taking misleading statistics in their decision to briefly operate from Honalulu...

Makes you wonder where on Earth the USDoD would be moved to, though, and <insert other obvious counter-arguments here>... ;)

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Feb 17, 2017 7:43 pm UTC

Well, I'd make it that they stay in a spot for a set period of time - probably either 4 years (to coincide with elections) or 10 years (to coincide with major census updates).


But I can see where the Honolulu argument could come in, but given the data, if the data shows that is where they are needed... (shrug)

As for the Pentagon, that's one that I'd say should stay put, not just for security concerns, but because of the infrastructure that already exists nearby to facility it. None of the other departments have that level of infrastructure requirements.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Vahir » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:23 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/13/us/oroville-dam-warnings-ignored/index.html

Evacuations have been on and off for the areas near the emergency spillway for the Oroville dam in north-central California, the tallest dam in the united states. This is one of the thousands of maintenance deferred dams in the US, the total cost of fixing the most critical hovering just over 50 billion (http://www.damsafety.org/media/Document ... ts2009.pdf). This is still just a drop in our aging infrastructure.

How should we deal with this?

US military spending is near 600 billion dollars. Just going to leave that there.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby HES » Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:55 pm UTC

Ah, but does that include the Army Corps of Engineers?
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby sardia » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:30 am UTC

Vahir wrote:
freezeblade wrote:http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/13/us/oroville-dam-warnings-ignored/index.html

Evacuations have been on and off for the areas near the emergency spillway for the Oroville dam in north-central California, the tallest dam in the united states. This is one of the thousands of maintenance deferred dams in the US, the total cost of fixing the most critical hovering just over 50 billion (http://www.damsafety.org/media/Document ... ts2009.pdf). This is still just a drop in our aging infrastructure.

How should we deal with this?

US military spending is near 600 billion dollars. Just going to leave that there.

And national defense is considered a priority. Infrastructure falls under the discretionary portion of the budget, which is less of a priority. What's your point?

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Vahir » Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:44 am UTC

sardia wrote:
Vahir wrote:
freezeblade wrote:http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/13/us/oroville-dam-warnings-ignored/index.html

Evacuations have been on and off for the areas near the emergency spillway for the Oroville dam in north-central California, the tallest dam in the united states. This is one of the thousands of maintenance deferred dams in the US, the total cost of fixing the most critical hovering just over 50 billion (http://www.damsafety.org/media/Document ... ts2009.pdf). This is still just a drop in our aging infrastructure.

How should we deal with this?

US military spending is near 600 billion dollars. Just going to leave that there.

And national defense is considered a priority. Infrastructure falls under the discretionary portion of the budget, which is less of a priority. What's your point?


That priorities should be reexamined.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Chen » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:45 pm UTC

That report is interesting. ~28k dams that server "recreation" as the primary purpose. What does that mean? Also ~58k dams are owned by private entities? Seems like those entities should be required to keep their dams up to snuff.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby HES » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:18 pm UTC

Chen wrote:~28k dams that server "recreation" as the primary purpose. What does that mean?

I would presume it is the reservoir, rather than the dam itself, that provides the recreation, and that they were initially built for some other purpose that has now taken a back seat.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Tyndmyr » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:13 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:What I always found weird about the government not supporting infrastructure projects is that they create so many jobs. Every politician since the recession has sworn to increase the employment rate and then ignored the easiest way to do that. It does not take that much training to learn how to pour concrete or lay asphalt and it is literally impossible to outsource, so it should be very attractive to former factory workers. In comparison to other government projects, infrastructure repairs do not even cost that much money. The results are immediate and tangible, two things that politicians love. There is barely any risk involved, especially when just repairs are being done. I just do not understand why the government does not fix our (in some cases literally) crumbling infrastructure.


*shrug* They're productive jobs, sure.

However, the immediate and tangible is...dubious. People don't generally notice the power save for when it doesn't work. Plus, a lot of infrastructure projects take literally years. Obama ran into this, remember the talk of "shovel ready projects"? The government moves slow, and infrastructure isn't super fast.

Economically, it makes sense, sure, if you take the long view. Politics frequently does not reward the long view.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby sardia » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:42 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:What I always found weird about the government not supporting infrastructure projects is that they create so many jobs. Every politician since the recession has sworn to increase the employment rate and then ignored the easiest way to do that. It does not take that much training to learn how to pour concrete or lay asphalt and it is literally impossible to outsource, so it should be very attractive to former factory workers. In comparison to other government projects, infrastructure repairs do not even cost that much money. The results are immediate and tangible, two things that politicians love. There is barely any risk involved, especially when just repairs are being done. I just do not understand why the government does not fix our (in some cases literally) crumbling infrastructure.


*shrug* They're productive jobs, sure.

However, the immediate and tangible is...dubious. People don't generally notice the power save for when it doesn't work. Plus, a lot of infrastructure projects take literally years. Obama ran into this, remember the talk of "shovel ready projects"? The government moves slow, and infrastructure isn't super fast.

Economically, it makes sense, sure, if you take the long view. Politics frequently does not reward the long view.

Planning in the long term does makes sense, and does happen. For example, the Republican plank to reduce voter participation. It's a very long term plan that gives subtle rewards and is really slow to take effect. In the short term, you get marginal benefits of firing up your voter base, but the real reward is the votes you deny Democrats over the long term in vast swaths of the country. There isn't a single Republican that isn't on board with this plan, and they've never been distracted from implementing it for long.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:16 am UTC

If it weren't for the fact that it is Cal (hardly Trump heartlands), I'd have said that the "fixing our broken infrastructure" pre-presidential promise could be well served by Sending In The Marines Seabees/USACE/whoever, or organising the acceleration of civilian contractors to this job1, as a demonstration of his benevolent sincerity.

But it probably won't happen that way. Even falsely claiming credit for the resolution of the problem doesn't seem like something he'd consider worth doing. Not at the moment, anyway.

(Would he perhaps even prefer to brandish a catastrophic failure, should it happen, as a better (if blunter) instrument of his power? I hope not, but there's a niggling feeling that he'd easily try to benefit on Twitter should things go pear-shaped...)


1 Hopefully avoiding the obvious possible charges of business self-interest, nepotism or cronyism. But I'm not sure he is so capable, whatever his intentions.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Prefanity » Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:42 am UTC

Soupspoon wrote:hardly Trump heartlands


More so than you'd might think.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby commodorejohn » Tue Mar 07, 2017 4:05 am UTC

Yeah, up here away from the major metropolitan centers of the state it's much more red-leaning.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Mar 07, 2017 9:03 am UTC

(That link is timing out, but that might be my end. The 4G is fluctuating a lot. I had considered looking it up before making the quip, but thought "Trump helps California", even Red California, might not look good to the Rust Belt set.)

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby ObsessoMom » Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:17 am UTC

Update:

Damage, design flaws in Oroville Dam spillway point to lengthy repairs, consultants say

Notably, the panel expressed concern that the concrete chute is only a foot thick, and less so in some places. DWR built the spillway on an uneven mountainside and in some spots used compacted clay to fill in the depressions in the rock foundation beneath the concrete. The consultants described finding evidence of “a number of repair instances” in which portions of the chute were cut away in order to “fill voids beneath the concrete.”

“This calls into question whether the portions of the slab that appear undamaged by the failure should be replaced during the restoration,” the panel wrote.

[...]

The panel report also said that while touring the spillway, consultants spotted “extraordinarily large” amounts of water gushing out of drains designed to move water out from beneath the intact portion of the chute. The water was flowing even though the spillway’s gates were closed and it wasn’t raining, the consultants wrote, adding that they believed further investigation is needed.


Ya think?

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby jewish_scientist » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:12 pm UTC

Bisnett, the DWR spokeswoman, said... "Through the decades, the spillway has been inspected repeatedly and been found to be well maintained and satisfactory for continued use.”

'All inspections found that the dam was in perfect condition, assuming that you ignore the ones that said that the dam was flawed.'
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby speising » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:19 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:
Bisnett, the DWR spokeswoman, said... "Through the decades, the spillway has been inspected repeatedly and been found to be well maintained and satisfactory for continued use.”



That is, if true, worrying in itself. Since it cannot be denied that the spillway was *not* performing satisfactorily now, either she's lying, or there's a major problem with the inspections.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:47 pm UTC

speising wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:
Bisnett, the DWR spokeswoman, said... "Through the decades, the spillway has been inspected repeatedly and been found to be well maintained and satisfactory for continued use.”



That is, if true, worrying in itself. Since it cannot be denied that the spillway was *not* performing satisfactorily now, either she's lying, or there's a major problem with the inspections.


Personally, I'd find it more likely that the people who did the inspections were lying.
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby freezeblade » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:50 pm UTC

eran_rathan wrote:
speising wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:
Bisnett, the DWR spokeswoman, said... "Through the decades, the spillway has been inspected repeatedly and been found to be well maintained and satisfactory for continued use.”



That is, if true, worrying in itself. Since it cannot be denied that the spillway was *not* performing satisfactorily now, either she's lying, or there's a major problem with the inspections.


Personally, I'd find it more likely that the people who did the inspections were lying.


This is my guess as well. This same sort of thing happens when the people who are in charge of inspections are cozy with industry (See also the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_San_ ... _explosion)
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby speising » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:16 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:
speising wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:
Bisnett, the DWR spokeswoman, said... "Through the decades, the spillway has been inspected repeatedly and been found to be well maintained and satisfactory for continued use.”



That is, if true, worrying in itself. Since it cannot be denied that the spillway was *not* performing satisfactorily now, either she's lying, or there's a major problem with the inspections.


Personally, I'd find it more likely that the people who did the inspections were lying.


This is my guess as well. This same sort of thing happens when the people who are in charge of inspections are cozy with industry (See also the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_San_ ... _explosion)

Which falls under the "major problem with the inspections" label in my book.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby squall_line » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:38 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote: I just do not understand why the government does not fix our (in some cases literally) crumbling infrastructure.


Do you know the one thing people hate more than bad roads?

Road construction.

Constituent complaints are one of the biggest impediments to infrastructure upkeep, quite honestly; it's one of the more frustrating paradoxes in civil service.

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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby eran_rathan » Fri Mar 24, 2017 5:54 pm UTC

squall_line wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote: I just do not understand why the government does not fix our (in some cases literally) crumbling infrastructure.


Do you know the one thing people hate more than bad roads?

Road construction.

Constituent complaints are one of the biggest impediments to infrastructure upkeep, quite honestly; it's one of the more frustrating paradoxes in civil service.


Dear gods, what I wouldn't give for the ability to throw down a spike mat every time some asshole swerved near me while working in the road...
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Re: Oroville Dam (CA) and crumbling infrastructure

Postby Sableagle » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:11 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:
eran_rathan wrote:
speising wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:
Bisnett, the DWR spokeswoman, said... "Through the decades, the spillway has been inspected repeatedly and been found to be well maintained and satisfactory for continued use.”

That is, if true, worrying in itself. Since it cannot be denied that the spillway was *not* performing satisfactorily now, either she's lying, or there's a major problem with the inspections.
Personally, I'd find it more likely that the people who did the inspections were lying.
This is my guess as well. This same sort of thing happens when the people who are in charge of inspections are cozy with industry (See also the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_San_ ... _explosion)
"Check water flow rates from under-spillway drains: __Not Actually Done_____"

"Form says Nil Abnormal Detected."

That's from an actual scandal over here, and it wasn't infrastructure maintenance. It was over-stretched healthcare services.
I don't know and have no opinion.


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