Lake Oroville Community Update, May 15, 2020


boat on Lake Oroville

Boat on Lake Oroville. DWR/2019

Oroville Field Division Work Continues

Oroville Field Division (OFD) staff continue to carry out essential duties including operations of Oroville Dam and affiliated power plants, facility maintenance, and monitoring activities. Following guidance from Governor Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health, OFD has made several changes in response to the dynamic public health emergency including social distancing, telework, and increased sanitary precautions for staff.


Please remember that California's water treatment process removes and kills viruses, including COVID-19. Additionally, tap water is cheaper, easily accessible, and doesn't contribute to plastics pollution.


Lake Oroville State Recreation Area Opens Select Recreation Facilities 

Following Governor Gavin Newsom’s direction on moving the state into Stage 2 of the COVID-19 Re-Opening Plan, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CA Parks) has opened portions of the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) to the public. Beginning May 15, Lake Oroville boat launch areas will be open during normal hours along with all LOSRA facility parking lots and day use areas. The Bidwell Canyon and Lake Oroville (Lime Saddle) Marinas are anticipated to open Monday, May 18. The Thermalito Diversion Pool and the North Forebay Recreation Area are also open to the public. The Forebay Aquatic Center at the North Forebay facility will open in early June for boat and kayak rentals.


LOSRA trails continue to be open for hikers and bikers, including the newly reconstructed Brad Freeman trail from the Thermalito Diversion Pool to the Spillway Boat Ramp area. Equestrian and multi-use trails are also open. LOSRA campgrounds, including floating campsites, and the Lake Oroville Visitors Center remain closed.


CA Parks encourages visitors to maintain a physical distance of six feet or more, to keep moving, and to be mindful of congestion on one-way trails. Gatherings, picnics, and parties are not allowed. The Butte County Health Officer recommends face coverings when indoors or when you cannot maintain a safe 6-foot distance from others. Information on LOSRA facility status can be obtained on the CA Parks “Flatten the Curve at State Parks” website. Information on local health requirements can be found at


USFS Opens Boat Ramps at Upper Feather River Lakes

As the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) begins their gradual opening of facilities, the boat launch ramps at the State Water Project facilities of Frenchman Lake, Lake Davis, and Antelope Lake in Plumas County are now open, however, campgrounds remain closed. For information on Forest Service facilities, find your national forest at


CAL FIRE to Reduce Fire Fuels in the Oroville Wildlife Area

CAL FIRE/Butte County Fire Department, in cooperation with California Department of Fish and Wildlife and California Department of Water Resources will burn 30 acres of grassland at the Rabe Road Shooting Range south of the Oroville Airport on Wednesday, May 20. This important vegetation management project (VMP) burn will clear the area around the shooting range of thick grass that could easily ignite if left to grow. The project also offers valuable training for firefighters in preparation for what could be a busy fire season. The shooting range will be closed to the public all day Wednesday and smoke from this control burn will be highly visible during the morning hours near the Oroville Airport and the Thermalito Afterbay.


Online Water Education Program Goes Live on DWR YouTube Channel

Join us for Water Wednesdays at 1 p.m. on DWR’s YouTube channel. These 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. The first five topics feature Delta wildlife including fish, plankton, birds, reptiles, and invasive species. Interested participants can pre-register through Zoom which will allow posting of questions to that week’s speaker.


Visit the DWR Events webpage at to join next Wednesday’s chat. Information will also be posted on DWR’s social media pages at @CA_DWR (Twitter) and @CADWR (Facebook). The May 13 episode of Water Wednesdays is available on DWR’s YouTube channel.


Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 820 feet and storage is about 2.43 million acre-feet. Daily average inflows to the lake have ranged between 2,784 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 10,023 cfs over the past week. 

Continued rainfall is expected this weekend into the week of May 18. There is about 1 to 2 inches of rainfall forecasted in the Feather River watershed. Currently in the Northern Sierra Basin rainfall is below average, at 58 percent of normal, and snowpack is also below average, measuring 15 percent of normal for this time of year. On Monday, May 11, total releases to the Feather River were increased from 1,550 cfs to 2,050 cfs to meet downstream Bay-Delta water quality and flow standards. Flows through the City of Oroville are about 650 cfs and the flows are about 1,400 cfs below the Thermalito River Outlet. 

All data as of midnight 5/14/20