California Officials Use Social Media Video to Support Oroville Dam Legislation

Assemblyman James Gallagher has led the making of a video to accompany a bill to protect California from future threats caused by the dam's aged infrastructure.

by Joshua Gutierrez, Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif. / May 1, 2017
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(TNS) -- A social media video supporting legislation requiring the state to do more inspections of dams and reservoirs was shot last Thursday, featuring current and former government officials, business owners and members of the public.

The video and a coalition letter are meant to accompany Assembly Bill 1270, which would require the Department of Water Resources to perform annual visual and physical inspections of dams and reservoirs. Additionally, DWR will be required to submit a five-year infrastructure improvement, maintenance and funding plan for reservoirs and dams which are maintained by the state.

The video was coordinated by Assemblyman James Gallagher, who has been vocal in his criticism of how the Oroville Dam situation was handled.

Shot at Gallagher's Yuba City office, the video contains close to three dozen people impacted by the evacuation.

"The objective here is to have a collective regional voice," Gallagher said. "These days, social media is very important. It is how a lot of people get information. Social media is a way to get a message out broadly and effectively."

The video will be edited to two to three minutes and is expected to be complete in the coming days, Gallagher said.

Participants in the video include former Yuba City Mayor Karen Cartoscelli; Oroville Vice Mayor Janet Goodson; Marysville Mayor Ricky Samayoa; Jessica DeCoito, executive director of the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau; and John Cassidy, CEO of Sierra Central Credit Union.

"The reason I'm here is pretty simple. We avoided (Hurricane) Katrina 2.0," Cassidy said. "Over 200,000 Northern Californians almost lost their homes and livelihood. I don't think the majority in California's Legislature understands the gravity of the potential disaster."

Cassidy said he had to close five offices during the evacuation that would have been affected if the water made its way to the area.

Samayoa said the diversity of people impacted by the disaster reinforced the idea about how important this topic is.

"We went through a very stressful few days," the mayor said. "We need clear answers to the questions the public has. This video is just another way to let the capital understand."

The draft letter supporting AB 1270 identifies that Mother Nature was not to blame for the dam's spillway failure. An independent analysis conducted by Robert Bea of the Center of Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley is used as evidence that "serious design and construction flaws in addition to insufficient maintenance" was to blame.

Additionally, the letter states 1,100 of California's 1,585 dams were built before 1969. Population increases around the dams since they were constructed would potentially put thousands of lives at risk, the letter states.

Gallagher introduced the bill on Feb. 17, with the most recent revisions coming on Wednesday, according to the Legislature's website. Sen. Jim Nielsen is listed as a co-author.

DeCoito said Oroville Dam is a very important piece of California's water infrastructure, which impacts thousands of ranchers' and farmers' lives.

DeCoito said she applauds Gallagher's continued stance on the issue of the Oroville Dam, a topic he understands because of his family's background in farming.

"He is in a great position to represent this area and a perfect representative to get the task done," she said.

©2017 the Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.