#OrovilleSpillway: @CA_DWR needs to drop reservoir 50′ for upcoming storms, auxiliary spillway starts eroding

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Officials ordered evacuation of the Feather River floodplain yesterday as the auxiliary spillway showed signs that it could fail. As of this morning water is no longer flowing over the auxiliary spillway so that danger has passed for now. Officials now need to drop the reservoir ~50′ to make room for anticipated rainfall runoff coming up this week.

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And here’s a primer on headward erosion from Wikipedia:

Headward erosion is erosion at the origin of a stream channel, which causes the origin to move back away from the direction of the stream flow, and so causes the stream channel to lengthen.[1] It can also refer to widening of a canyon by erosion along its very top edge, when sheets of water first enter the canyon from a more roughly planar surface above it, such as at Canyonlands National Park in Utah. (See image at right.) When sheets of water on a roughly planar surface first enter a depression in it, this erodes the top edge of the depression. This either causes the stream to grow longer at the very top of the stream, which moves its origin back, or causes the canyon formed by the stream to grow wider, by erosion along the length of its top side edge as sheets of water flow over the edge. Widening of the canyon by erosion inside the canyon, below the canyon side top edge, or origin or the stream, such as erosion caused by the streamflow inside it, is not called headwall erosion.

Headward erosion is a fluvial process of erosion that lengthens a stream, a valley or a gully at its head and also enlarges its drainage basin. The stream erodes away at the rock and soil at its headwaters in the opposite direction that it flows. Once a stream has begun to cut back, the erosion is sped up by the steep gradient the water is flowing down. As water erodes a path from its headwaters to its mouth at a standing body of water, it tries to cut an ever-shallower path. This leads to increased erosion at the steepest parts, which is headward erosion. If headward erosion continues long enough, it can cause a stream to break through into a neighboring watershed and capture drainage that previously flowed to another stream.

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Here’s the Coyote Gulch post from yesterday when things looked like they would stabilize.

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