Lake Oroville Community Update - November 6, 2020


DWR water quality experts collect samples from Lake Oroville for testing.

DWR water quality experts collect samples from Lake Oroville for testing. DWR/2020

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

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), in accordance with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s directives to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, is hosting the fifth Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC) meeting in a virtual format on Friday, Nov. 13 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The meeting’s agenda will focus on an Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) update and winter operations; 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. Instructions and links to the planned webinar will be posted on the CAC website the week of Nov. 9.  

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 the 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.

Fire Impacts to Lake Oroville

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is a member of the “Watershed Working Group” led by the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). The working group is a multi-agency team evaluating and identifying areas of concern in the Feather River watershed affected by recent wildfires.

DWR’s Division of Flood Management is currently assisting California Conservation Corps members to install erosion control measures in areas of concern and DWR water quality experts have expanded water sampling activities at Lake Oroville to monitor for algal blooms and other environmental concerns. After the 2018 Camp Fire, data collected by DWR environmental scientists showed no long-term impacts to water quality in Lake Oroville.

The clearing of debris entering Lake Oroville is part of ongoing DWR maintenance of Lake Oroville. Additional work is planned to protect boaters and ensure safe operation of dam facilities. Several ancillary DWR facilities around Lake Oroville experienced fire damage. DWR staff are making repairs to the impacted facilities.

Oroville Recreation

The Lime Saddle and Oroville Dam Spillway boat ramps remain open. The Bidwell Canyon boat launch has restricted hours of operation (see section below). The Potter’s Ravine and North Fork trails near the Oroville Dam Spillway boat launch area and trails in the Loafer Creek Recreation Area are closed to repair fire damage. Enterprise, Stringtown, and Foreman Creek boat ramp areas, the Loafer Creek Recreation Area, and Lake Oroville Visitor Center remain closed.

Visit the California Parks Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) webpage for current information on facility status as well as current requirements to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information is also available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. For information about the Oroville Wildlife Area, including the Thermalito Afterbay, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.

Bidwell Canyon Boat Ramp Construction

The Bidwell Canyon boat ramp project to continue construction started in 2018 to expand the parking area and provide two additional boat ramp lanes to 700 feet has experienced delays due to the national shortage of concrete. The anticipated completion date has been pushed to December, but construction staff have repaired the boat ramp’s access road, allowing weekend use from 5 a.m. Saturdays to midnight Sundays to resume. Kelly Ridge and Arroyo Drive residents should anticipate large construction equipment and material deliveries in the area as construction activities continue on weekdays.

As they do every fall, lake levels are decreasing. Loading docks are available at both Lime Saddle and Oroville Dam Spillway boat ramps and docks will remain available for use until lake levels drop below approximately 700 feet elevation. The Bidwell Canyon Marina and shuttle services remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Loafer Creek Recreation Area remains closed for fire recovery and its boat ramps are out of the water.

Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee

The Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee (ORAC) held their fall meeting Nov. 6. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was not open to the public to protect public health. ORAC was established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review and provide recommendations regarding the DWR Recreation Plan for the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. To obtain a summary of the meeting, send a request to

Bryozoans Return to Lake Oroville

Have you seen these ‘creatures’ in Lake Oroville? Bryozoans are aquatic invertebrates. But instead of being a single organism like jellyfish, bryozoans are made up of thousands of individual microscopic animals called zooids, living in a colony. A single colony can grow to be 12-20 inches in diameter and many can grow close together, creating a large mass. More commonly found in lakes in the eastern United States, they have migrated via birds, winds, and other means to western lakes. They appear regularly in Lake Oroville during the late summer or early fall and can be found free-floating in the water or attached to submerged branches, ropes, or even houseboat pontoons.

Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 726 feet and storage is about 1.4 million acre-feet. This weekend expect much cooler temperatures; around a half an inch of rainfall is forecasted for the Feather River Basin. During the week of November 9, cool temperatures will continue with a chance of rain later in the week. 

The total releases to Feather River continue at 2,450 cfs to meet downstream Bay-Delta water quality and flow standards. The Feather River flows consist of 800 cfs through the Low Flow Channel adjacent to the City of Oroville, and 1,650 cfs from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 2,450 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel downstream of the Outlet. 


All data as of midnight 11/5/2020