Lake Oroville Community Update - August 14, 2020


An aerial view of Bidwell Bar Bridge at Lake Oroville

Aerial view of Lake Oroville. DWR/2018

California Natural Resources Agency to Host Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission Public Meeting

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), in accordance with Governor Newsom’s directives and to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, is hosting the fourth Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC) meeting virtually on Friday, August 21 from 10 a.m. to noon. The meeting’s agenda will focus on ongoing dam safety initiatives and current recreation access as well as planned improvements; there will also be an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions and make comments. Persons interested in participating are directed to the CAC’s website for information on how to join the meeting. Links to meeting materials will be posted on the CAC website the week of August 17.


The Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission, created by Senate Bill 955 (Nielsen) in 2018, established a new public forum for discussing issues related to Oroville Dam facilities. The Commission, housed within CNRA, represents the communities surrounding Oroville Dam for the purposes of providing public input as well as receiving information from state agencies related to the Oroville Dam, its related structures, the Feather River Fish Hatchery, and the Oroville-Thermalito Complex.


PG&E Work to Close West Branch of Lake Oroville

Utility work by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) on the West Branch of the Feather River at Lake Oroville will require intermittent closure of boating from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, August 21. PG&E crews will be removing conductors from transmission lines extending over the West Branch waterway near where it joins the Feather River’s North Fork of Lake Oroville. Boat traffic will not be permitted to cross under the transmission lines until they can be safely escorted through by traffic control boats identified by flashing lights. Boaters in the Lime Saddle Marina area and those entering the West Branch are advised to prepare for temporary delays. The waterway is anticipated to reopen by 1 p.m.


Oroville Recreation Update

Lake Oroville and the North and South Forebay boat ramps, parking lots, and day use areas are open. Except for the Oroville Dam Spillway Boat Ramp area, which is open 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) boat ramps are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Trails and day use areas are open from 8 a.m. to sunset. Floating campsites and group campsites are not currently available to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For information about State Parks camping, as well as COVID-19 public health requirements while recreating, visit


The Oroville Wildlife Area (OWA), including the Thermalito Afterbay, is open 1.5 hours before sunrise to one hour after sunset and offers miles of trails and wildlife viewing. The Forebay Aquatic Center at the North Forebay Recreation Area is open Friday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for boat, kayak, and other aquatic equipment rentals. Information and an interactive map of Lake Oroville and OWA recreation facilities is available on the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. The Lake Oroville Visitors Center remains closed due to COVID-19.


Grebes Nest Receive Help from DWR

Western and Clark’s grebes, with their distinctive red eyes, graceful necks and long yellow bills, have returned to the Thermalito Afterbay for their nesting season. The shallow nature of the Afterbay is perfect for these two species of grebes who, along with only a few other aquatic bird species, actually nest on the water. DWR voluntarily restricts the elevation of the Thermalito Afterbay because significant decreases in reservoir elevation could strand the nests out of the water or submerge them if elevations increase. Find more information about the grebes at the DWR Updates webpage. Photos can be found on DWR’s Pixel webpage – enter Grebes in the search bar after creating a user name and password to log in.


Oroville Area Algal Blooms Status

DWR environmental scientists regularly monitor Lake Oroville, the Thermalito North Forebay, and the Thermalito Afterbay for cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and their toxins. There are currently no Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) advisories for Lake Oroville, the Thermalito Forebay, or the Thermalito Afterbay.


Algal blooms continue to be present in many locations around Lake Oroville. Lab analysis of water samples from these water bodies continues to find minimal or no amounts of cyanobacteria in the algae. Sampling continues weekly and if elevated levels of cyanobacteria or toxins are found, DWR staff will work with California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board and recreation area managers to notify the public and post advisory signs at the affected waterbody. Non-toxic algal blooms can be irritating or even dangerous to pets and small children. To learn more about HABs, visit the Water Board’s website and DWR’s digital article on the DWR Updates webpage. The public is encouraged to report algal blooms on the HAB reporting webpage.


DWR Water Education Program Educates Youth Online This Summer

Missing Summer Camp? Join DWR’s virtual Summer Camp. DWR Staff will be providing fun activities relating to DWR’s recent Water Wednesday’s videos. The family-friendly programs are designed for kids 10 to 14 but are appropriate for anyone who would like to learn more about California’s water resources. Each video is available on DWR’s YouTube channel and a listing of all the program’s episodes can be found by clicking the Playlists tab. Activity suggestions and information can be found in the video’s comment section as they are added each week.


Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 760 feet and storage is about 1.77 million acre-feet. Daily average inflows to the lake have ranged between 1,365 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 2,025 over the past week. An excessive heat watch is in effect this weekend through Sunday evening and high temperatures will continue into the week of August 17. The Northern Sierra Basin rainfall totals remains below average for the year, at 63 percent of normal.

The total releases to Feather River are 2,300 cfs to meet downstream Bay-Delta water quality and flow standards. Flows through the City of Oroville are about 1,550 cfs. Flows from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) are about 750 cfs for a total of 2,300 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel downstream of the Outlet. Throughout the week flows through the City of Oroville and the Outlet may fluctuate for fisheries purposes.


All data as of midnight 8/13/2020