You are hereBlogs / Alex Wierbinski's blog / Dam Life: The Life & Times of Oroville Dam

Dam Life: The Life & Times of Oroville Dam

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 14 March 2017

Dam Life: 
The Life & Times of Oroville Dam

This is written to give greater context to the costs identified in the opinion piece:

Editorial: Taxpayers deserve transparency on Oroville expenses,
Mercury News, March 13, 2017.

A Tour de Force of Irony...

March 14, 2017

From March News 

We the people of California have been transparently ripped-off to fund developer's and banker's irresponsible growth since the beginning. My favorite historical example is the US Congress funding the first Rail Barons to build private railroads. The Barons used these to control and bleed dry all business, farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, & etc. within their "realms." This was at the inception of California, and not much has changed since then.

Today, like back then, our financial support (taxes) and resources are being used for building the water infrastructure to continue feeding developer's & banker's irresponsible growth as the engine of their power, wealth, and profits at our taxpayer expense. Repairs or maintinence billed to private interests are done for as cheaply as possible, or deferred.
In short, when not done TOTALLY on our dime, the Water Districts of our Corporate Masters have minimized their costs of upkeep while increasing the potential dangers that this infrastructure of public responsibility and private profit poses to the public. In the meantime, the irresponsible growth this infrastructure supported subsequently has brought what all irresponsible growth and development brings: destruction of our social wealth and infrastructure to satisfy the extreme greed of a few. 

Socially, since we built the Oroville Dam we have used these waters to build great megacities filled with poverty and slums up and down the West Coast. Our educational system, our infrastructure, our power system, roads, bridges, and our water systems have all gone from "best in the world" when Oroville was built to "worse in USA," or very close, today. Wages, benefits, and the remnants of our middle class are living like third world refugees in their own country. The rich have stolen the most wealth and political power in the history of the USA using projects such as Oroville. This type of irresponsible growth moves all wealth to the top. These are just the facts.

"Growth and Globalization" have been the tools both parties and their corporate paymasters have used to perpetuate the greatest transfer of wealth in human history. Between 1964 and today irresponsible domestic population growth and "globalization" have executed the transfer of the wealth and political power of the American middle class to our corporate leaders, to the "1%." This is a fact. It already happened. 

They have all of our money and most of our political power.


Today we are looking at merely one aspect, one face of the many hidden long term costs of our past growth projects, such as in managing this Oroville Dam Crisis, while our leaders make haste to build new ones ASAP. In the meantime the quality of education, medicine, wages, benefits, and all aspects of California Living have deteriorated along with the Oroville Dam over its lifetime. Our society and environment have been asset-stripped through the mechanism of rapid irresponsible corporate growth. Infrastructure like Oroville Dam are critical to make rapid expansion, to make this asset-stripping possible. 

We had to buy them the tools of our own destruction.

California's water infrastructure made possible the rapid growth that fueled vast social imbalances that allowed our greedy politicians and their corporate sponsors to diplace middle-class democratic practices to both amass great wealth, and politically dominate our society. Besides achieving their primairy goals, this type of growth generates significant secondary effects. It has damaged the nature of reality itself, both socially and environmentally.


Environmentally, the existing populations in LA and the South Valley depend heavily on water from behind the compromised Oroville Dam. This is a bet on continued snow pack in the Sierra, and the ability of the Oroville Dam to capture and store it.

Make no mistake, Oroville is environmentally compromised both physically and strategically. Physically, it is questionable that Oroville can currently store (when it can capture) enough of its capacity to fulfill its current obligations to those existing populations, let alone act as part of a stable state system necessary to fulfill our greedy corporate dreamers' desires of unending future growth. Those would both clearly be very irresponsible assumptions.


Strategically, Oroville and the whole Calfiornia Water System were set up to capture melting snow water from the Sierra to support vast urban populations. Ironically, moving our manufacturing to China and expanding our population, both very "popular" trends that make California a global leader in foolishness are exactly the same things that are triggering our global climate catastrophy. These are the "policies" that are transforming our Sierra snow into rain.

"Liberals" support the Corporate Growth Machine of Death in California! They call irresponsible growth and environmental destruction, "progressive!" The irony is delicious!

They are like pool players delibertly putting themselves behind the 8-Ball!

From an environmental viewpoint it is the behavior of "Californians," their program of massive population growth and sending manufacturing to China, that are the main forces driving not just global climate change, but driving the Sierra weather changing from snow to rain, from cold to warm.  It is Californian's own ignorance we are experiencing in our weird weather, it is our own behaviors that are driving us from a Natural Wonderland into our own self-created dry future that will no longer reliably support us or our vast megacities. Nature is again driving us from the garden for our own sins.

None of the nature of reality is of interest to most, "Californians." They are too busy living their greedy consumer, "dreams," of gross consumption while playing out their Nature-destroying, "progressive fantasies" in their vast megacities...


Depending on Oroville as a stable foundation for future growth generates textbook definitions of both irresponsibity and irony... Ironically, our irresponsible growth has changed the fundamental availability of resources (social and natural) that first made good living here in California even possible. Circumstances and evidence indicates the days of sufficient snow pack and subsequently, water, are currently coming to a close, as they did with decent pay, benefits, and education twenty years ago.

That's just a coincidence, right? We have not been asset-stripped by corporate growth, have we? Our corporate growth is not killing Nature, is it?


Our irresponsible global growth program is well on the way to transforming the Sierra climate into one with much warmer Winters composed of rain rather than snow. We are already well down the trail to a future Sierra Nevada that will starve-out the vast populations in California's megacities, despite their vast water system built to capture snow runoff. I suspect we are currently entering a period of droughts and floods that will both be virtually immune to capture before it really dries out here.


Call it the self-created end of the self-serving "California Lie," and the beginning of the, "California Nightmare." The first rumblings of these long-term repercussions of our long-term irresponsible behavior should have long ago encouraged us to put logical and decent restraints on the greedy and their program of endless irresponsible growth. We Failed then and are still failing today. Now our failures have made us all passengers on, "Ma Nature's Wild Ride," and this ride will not end until Nature finds balance, with or without us. Hold on tight. Make sure the kids are securely strapped-in...


I fear (know) we have allowed the damages of our irresponsible growth to continue for so long we have triggered environmental changes and destruction that are far bigger and will long outlast the population we stuffed into this state.

Most encouraging is that these environmental effects will outlast and strip naked the false intellectual and ideological self-justifications to expose the real underlaying corrupt desires & behaviors that allowed corporate and individual greed to come together to overwhelm honesty, honor, Nature, and basic common sense. This will be quite a lesson.

Most disturbing is that the cost of our corruptions can be clearly seen blowing in the changing winds and weather. These are omens speaking to the destruction we are visiting on the sophistication and power of the web of life that sustains all. Few are aware of these changes, and fewer aware of their import. That has disturbing implications for the future of Nature and its Web of Life.


The beliefs, behaviors, and practices of typical, "Californians," are working to effectively lobotomize the sophistication of the Web of Life Itself. California's "progressive" Corporate Growth program is Death for Nature because it's growth consumes the web of life itself. Our current approach to, "environmentalism," is not just ignorant of Nature, but is critically destructive to natural cycles we are completely dependent on.

Ironically, every decline in the sophistication and power of the Web of Life in Nature will result in porportional reduction in the sophistication and power of humans and their societies. Our greed has deep costs few now measure, let alone see. We will live poorly in a lobotomized ecosystem, if we live at all.

After all of our destructive effects on Nature are finally done we might yet learn something after all. We may finally learn that greed is bad, and that Irresponsible growth profits few and endangers all. We "learned" those lessons as Americans once before with the Dust Bowl and Great Depression.

I guess those were not big enough lessons.



2005 Oroville Dam Warnings unheeded


It's Over and We Killed It:
Climate change puts California’s snowpack under the weather,
AGU, Geo Space, March 9, 2017.


Oroville Federal Regulators are the same,
"FERC (that) allowed ENRON to turn us upside down and shake all the money out of our pockets"


Will Oroville Make It Through Winter & Thaw of 2017?


March 8 Observation
Basic Factor Controlling Spring Weather Development: Where will the High Go?


Our Final Answer 
We Need a New Environmentalism

Powered by Drupal, an open source content management system

Text Translations

Flag icon for 'de' languageFlag icon for 'it' languageFlag icon for 'ru' languageFlag icon for 'fr' languageFlag icon for 'es' languageFlag icon for 'pl' languageFlag icon for 'no' languageFlag icon for 'fi' languageFlag icon for 'da' languageFlag icon for 'ro' language

Get the Latest from Tahoe to Whitney

Syndicate content

In the News

Random image

Three Amigos