Now that residents of areas that could be hit by a breach of the Oroville Dam have been evacuated out of harm’s way, one of the largest challenges of a disaster would be property destruction. A new study claims as many as 50,000 homes are at risk and that the damages could cost $13.3 billion.
That is the reconstruction cost value (RCV) of 50,047 single-family and multifamily residential homes that would be obliterated if the dam fails completely, and they are in Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties. Research firm CoreLogic reports:
The majority of homes at risk are between 20 and 60 miles from the dam, totaling 33,967 properties with an estimated RCV of $9.8 billion. Additionally, there are 16,080 homes at risk of damage less than 20 miles from the dam with an estimated RCV of $3.5 billion.
These costs are comparable to estimates for repairs to deficient dams nationwide. According to the LA Times:
A 2016 survey by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimated the cost of repairing deficient dams that currently place downstream residents at risk at $22.91 billion. Carrying out that task would take many decades.
The warnings about costs to repair America’s infrastructure have, in some cases, become more urgent.
Figure 1: Total Homes at Risk and Reconstruction Cost Value by County
|County||Number of Homes||Estimated RCV|