Satellite images show water level increase at Oroville Dam

Helicopters carry rocks to the Lake Oroville Dam after an evacuation order was lifted for communities downstream in Oroville, California, U.S. February 15, 2017.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) warned in 2013 that California has a $65 billion infrastructure investment deficit in providing an adequate level of public infrastructure for dams, waterways, airports, roads, bridges, seaports and tunnels. They said the Lake Oroville water level was 26 feet below the emergency spillway by Wednesday night. Until Thursday, the spillway had been pouring water out at 100,000 cfs in order to bring the lake level down quickly. He said the amount of water entering Lake Oroville last week was the highest in roughly 20 years, but still well below levels recorded in 1997.

Oroville Dam is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills about 80 miles north of Sacramento. Officials feared it was about to collapse and cause a catastrophic flood. Harrington said. "I left my checkbook, medications I had".

Bill Croyle, acting head of the Department of Water Resources, refused to comment on the 2005 concerns, saying he was not familiar with them and would need to research the matter. Officials had to use the emergency spillway after a large hole developed in the main one, putting it out of use.

"Those of us who live downstream live in the shadow of these dams and there's a palpable, nearly physical presence, with the threat of the failure of these dams", he said.

Today, AP employs the latest technology to collect and distribute content - we have daily uploads covering the latest and breaking news in the world of politics, sport and entertainment. "Stuff happens and we respond". Water had never flowed over the emergency spillway until Saturday. When the deluge gouged out hundreds of feet of the concrete bottom, dam managers eased off those controlled releases. Water then began spilling down the hillside.

The Department of Water Resources declined to answer specific questions about the fix work, saying engineers were focused on ensuring public safety.

The crisis in Oroville not only caused severe flooding in communities along the Feather River below the dam, but also threatened the stability of the drinking water supply for millions of residents in central and southern California.

Officials flowed more water through the damaged concrete spillway in a frantic bid to lower the reservoir.

But Oroville isn't the only part of the state expecting a rainy week. The National Dam Safety Program-operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA-currently provides some funding for state training, technical assistance, and inspections, but includes no funding for dam fix.

"We have really dry years and strings of wet years", said Alan Haynes, a hydrologist for the National Weather Service. She would not answer other questions about the relicensing application.

While this was the first time the emergency spillway had to be used, it was not the first time concerns were raised over how sound the dam's structure was.

Engineer John Onderdonk also wrote that, "it is acceptable for the emergency spillway to sustain significant damage". No one was injured, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. John Flesher in Traverse City, Michigan, contributed.