The City of Oroville has hired a San Francisco law firm to take up a suit against the California Department of Water Resources for its handling of the Oroville Dam spillway incident last February.
The more than 700-page suit alleges that years of mismanagement led to the evacuation of nearly 188,000 people in the Feather River Basin. The suit alleges that DWR is responsible for millions of dollars of damages to Oroville, farms, and other property.
Attorney Joe Cotchett of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP estimates the losses in the region to be near $1 billion.
The City’s suit is seeking damages for public safety like police, fire, and paramedics. It’s seeking losses for damaged roads, levies, and other infrastructure. The suit is also seeking damages for loss in tax revenue for businesses that had to close because of the spillway incident.
Oroville Mayor Linda Dahlmeier said the city and DWR had discussions about the cost and attempted a resolution but could not reach an agreement.
"I think it's expected,” Dahlmeir said.
The mayor said she hopes this suit will spark a changing and improving relationship between DWR and the people or Oroville.