Lake Oroville Dam Emergency Not Likely in Metro Omaha

Lake Oroville Dam Emergency Not Likely in Metro Omaha


Lake Oroville Dam Emergency Not Likely in Metro Omaha

     Considerable media coverage of California’s Lake Oroville Dam and Emergency Spillway crisis over the last few weeks has led to some questions about the safety of dams throughout the United States and in the Omaha Metro Area.

     “Comparing the Oroville Dam to any dam in the Omaha Metro area is not comparing apples to apples. It is, in fact, like comparing an apple to the space shuttle,” said John Winkler, Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District General Manager.

     The dams built and maintained by the Papio Missouri River NRD are ninety-percent smaller than the Oroville Dam which is the tallest dam in the United States at 770 feet in height. By comparison, Dam Site 15A, being constructed by the NRD on 168th and Fort Streets, is 50 feet tall.

     In addition, Lake Oroville is 15,800 acres and the lake at Dam Site 15A is 220 acres. “There are tremendous differences in geology, geography, hydraulics, hydrology, design methods, maintenance, climate and other comparable factors,” said Winkler.

     The District works closely with state and federal agencies to insure that all of its structures meet or exceed the strictest dam safety requirements. The earthen spillway at Dam Site 15A is designed to handle flows up to 30,000 cubic feet per second, almost twice the amount of water released over the emergency spillway at the Oroville Dam this week.

     Furthermore, the District performs a spillway integrity analysis on every dam they design as required by the State of Nebraska. District maintenance crews also regularly and meticulously inspect our dams and repair any possible deficiencies as quickly as possible to insure our citizens are safe.

     There has never been a high hazard dam failure in the history of the State of Nebraska and Nebraska’s 23 Natural Resources Districts work tirelessly to keep that record going far into the future.



Emmett J Egr, APR

Information/Education Coordinator

Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District

8901 S 154th St, Omaha, NE 68138


eegr [at]