California Gov. Jerry Brown defended the state's handling of the Oroville Dam crisis as he waited to hear from the president on his request for direct federal assistance for the emergency.
Also, Brown welcomed scrutiny after revelations in recent days that there had been warnings more than a decade ago about the troubled emergency spillway.
"There are lots of reports, so we have to depend on the professionals and the engineers," Brown said late Monday in remarks at a press conference after visiting the State Operations Center outside Sacramento. "They tell us what we need, and then we do it. But I welcome more scrutiny."
Added Brown, "Every time you have one of these disasters, people perk up and start looking at analogous situations and things you might not have paid as much attention to."
As a result of the potential for flash flooding from the rapidly eroding emergency spillway, nearly 200,000 residents were forced Sunday to evacuate from their homes. Tuesday marked the third day the mandatory order remained in effect.
A meeting briefing is scheduled for Tuesday 1 p.m. local time in Oroville. Engineers are currently meeting and there is a possibility authorities could lift the mandatory evacuation.
"Prior warnings to make safety improvements to the dam's structures may well have averted this crisis if they had been heeded," said Adrienne Alvord, Western states director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, in a statement.
Alvord, an expert on water policy, asserted that the critical problems to the 48-year-old dam's spillways spoke to the need for "stronger design criteria."
"Due to the magnitude of this event and the potential for additional issues, we are requiring California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to initiate immediate design of emergency repair to minimize further degradation of both the emergency spillway and the service spillway," the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission stated Monday in a letter to DWR's acting director, William Croyle.
FERC issued the original power license for the Oroville facilities in the late 1950s but the license expired Jan. 31, 2007; relicensing proceedings are still pending.