Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission Public Meeting
The California Natural Resources Agency held its sixth Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission meeting on Feb. 19. The online public meeting included presentations on fire modernization at the Hyatt Power Plant, winter operations, and a presentation from the Yuba Water Agency on downstream flood management. Members of the public also asked questions and gained information on these and other topics. The Citizens Advisory Commission is a forum for the community to provide feedback and ask questions. The meeting transcript and presentations will be available on the Commission’s website (https://bit.ly/OrovilleCAC) in the coming weeks.
Lake Oroville Boat Ramps
The Lime Saddle Boat Ramp is now open for use along with Bidwell Canyon and Spillway boat ramps. Bidwell Canyon and Lime Saddle boat ramps are open 24-hours per day and the Spillway boat ramps are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. The Lake Oroville Marina at Lime Saddle is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and the Bidwell Canyon Marina is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Loafer Creek boat ramps remain out of the water.
Feather River Fish Planting
Hundreds of thousands of fish are raised every year at the Feather River Fish Hatchery, including Chinook fall and spring run salmon, and salmon’s cousin, steelhead trout – another type of anadromous fish that migrates from their river birthplace to the ocean and back to their native river to spawn.
Over the last two weeks, hatchery staff transported and released over 430,000 of the steelhead trout raised last year into the Feather River below Yuba City. Releasing the young fish further downstream improves their chances of survival by shortening their migration route to avoid predators. An additional 10,000 steelhead were also released into the Thermalito Afterbay to support that popular recreational fishery.
The Feather River Fish Hatchery is a California State Water Project (SWP) facility built in the late 1960s to mitigate impacts on fish migration resulting from the construction of Oroville Dam which prevented access to spawning grounds further upstream. DWR maintains the facility and funds the hatchery operations, fish spawning, rearing, and stocking activities provided by California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff. Photos of the steelhead trout release are available on the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Pixel webpage – search ‘fish release’.
The Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) campgrounds at Bidwell Canyon, Loafer Creek – including the Equestrian Campground, and the Lime Saddle Campground are open. Group camping, including floating campgrounds, and boat-in campgrounds remain closed. Reservation capability does not open until April and camping sites will be allocated on a ‘first come-first serve’ basis.
The Potters Ravine and North Fork trails are open for use. California Department of Parks and Recreation (CA Parks) encourages users to remain on the trails. Assessments by CA Parks staff of trail safety will continue through the winter. All day use facilities at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) are open. The Lake Oroville Visitors Center remains closed.
Visit the California Parks LOSRA webpage for current information on facility status as well as current requirements to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information about recreation facilities can be found in DWR’s interactive map on the Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. For information about the Oroville Wildlife Area, including the Thermalito Afterbay, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.
Thermalito Powerplant Update
The Thermalito Powerplant (THPP), formally named the Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating Powerplant, has returned to full service after losing operational capacity when it was damaged by fire in November 2012. The powerplant has been re-constructed with modern fire and life safety features, and the plant’s electrical protection, control, and communications systems have been fully replaced. The thousands of connections in the plant’s new systems underwent the strict and rigorous ‘interconnection’ requirements of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to safely re-connect the powerplant to the state’s electrical grid.
The THPP is one of three hydroelectric powerplants in the Oroville-Thermalito Complex, capable of generating 118 megawatts – enough to power roughly 100,000 households and adding value to the approximately 714 megawatts produced by Oroville Dam’s Edward Hyatt Powerplant. Along with the Thermalito Diversion Dam Powerplant, the Oroville-Thermalito Complex is California’s State Water Project’s leading producer of clean hydro-electric power.
Wildfire Impacts on Water Quality
The multi-agency “Watershed Working Group”, led by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), continues targeted monitoring of rivers, lakes, and other surface waters in the North Complex burn area and downstream. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the Department of Water Resources (DWR) collect and test water samples for analysis. The Water Board’s recent news release states elevated results found are not impacting drinking water treatment facilities nor the quality of drinking water.
Water testing will continue and the Watershed Working Group will report results in the weeks ahead. The Water Board will alert the public if results show water quality may be impacted.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 708 feet elevation and storage is about 1.31 million acre-feet, 55 percent of historical average. Currently, in the Northern Sierra Basin, rainfall is below average, at 53 percent of normal for this time of year and snowpack is also below average at 67 percent of normal. Chance of light rain and snow showers in the higher elevations is forecasted this Saturday. Next week, beginning Feb. 22, expect dry conditions with a slight chance of rain towards the end of the week.
The total releases to the Feather River continues to be at 1,250 cfs to conserve storage in Lake Oroville. The Feather River flows consist of 800 cfs down the Low Flow Channel through the City of Oroville, and 450 cfs from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 1,250 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel downstream of the Outlet.
The public can track precipitation, snow, reservoir levels, and more at the California Data Exchange Center at www.cdec.water.ca.gov. Lake Oroville is identified as “ORO”.
All data as of midnight 2/18/2021