Lake Oroville Community Update - October 1, 2021
The annual Oroville Salmon Festival was held Saturday, September 25 to celebrate the return of salmon to the Feather River. Centered around historic downtown Oroville and the newly renovated Oroville Convention Center (formerly Memorial Auditorium), attendees enjoyed an activity zone, food vendors, music, craft fair, car show, a downtown street fair, and informational booths.
The Feather River Fish Hatchery (FRFH) remains closed, but the Fish Barrier Dam Overlook, fish ladder, and underwater viewing window continue to be open to the public. A video virtual tour of the hatchery is available on the DWR YouTube channel.
Loafer Point Stage II Boat Ramp Extension
Historic low lake levels at Lake Oroville are allowing DWR to extend three lanes of the Loafer Point Stage II boat ramp farther into the dry lakebed. Work to create the new boat launch lanes will begin the week of Oct. 4 and will continue until winter precipitation causes lake levels to rise. The existing Stage II facility was completed this spring, providing six new boat launch lanes extending to elevation 702 feet and 180 trailered parking spaces.
The Loafer Point Stage II facility is adjacent to an existing Loafer Creek Recreation Day Use Area and Campground, rounding out a full-service recreation destination with nearby trails, campgrounds, boating, and marina store. Additionally, immediate access to the wide-open waters of Lake Oroville makes Loafer Point a popular boat launching location. The Loafer Point Stage I boat launch facility, completed in 2020, added three new boat launch lanes from a full lake down to 799 feet, a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking area, and new restroom facilities.
Visitors and nearby residents are reminded to be aware of construction equipment and vehicles, including those entering and exiting the Loafer Creek recreation area at Oro-Quincy Highway.
Bryozoans Visible Again in Lake Oroville
Have you seen these ‘creatures’ in Lake Oroville? Bryozoans are freshwater, aquatic invertebrates. There are nearly 5,000 species of bryozoans found throughout the world with the majority are marine animals. Instead of being a single organism like a jellyfish, bryozoans are made up of thousands of individual microscopic animals called zooids, living in a colony. A single colony will vary in size from approximately 12 to 20 inches but some can grow bigger in diameter.
These jelly-like colonies can be found attached to submerged branches, rocks, ropes, and even on houseboat pontoons and motors. They typically appear during the summer and fall months when lake levels are low. Freshwater bryozoans are harmless and non-toxic, though they can occasionally clog underwater objects.
Palermo Tunnel Bulkhead Project
Department of Water Resources engineers and contractors will begin a project to re-install a refurbished bulkhead (controls inflow of water) at the submerged Palermo Tunnel Intake Structure in Lake Oroville next week. A frame and pulley system to make future installations easier will also be installed. The work will be done from a barge on the lake positioned near the Hyatt Powerplant intake structures. Inspection for quagga mussels and barge assembly, including the use of cranes, will take place near Oroville Dam’s Spillway Boat Ramp area over the next couple of weeks. Actual dive and remotely operated vehicle work to install the bulkhead is scheduled for early November.
The Palermo Tunnel conveys water from Lake Oroville to the Palermo Canal, a source of water for the South Feather Water and Power Agency, which distributes treated water to the communities of Oroville, Palermo and Bangor.
Over 97 miles of trails around Lake Oroville, along the Feather River, Thermalito Diversion Pool, Forebays and Afterbay, and the Oroville Wildlife Area are available to equestrians, bicyclists, and hikers wishing to explore Oroville’s natural beauty.
A map of the trails maintained by DWR and California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) is now available at many Oroville locations including Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) kiosks, Oroville Wildlife Area office on Oro Dam Boulevard West, the Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce, and Feather River Recreation and Parks District.
Visitors to the Thermalito North Forebay will find a full CA Parks facility with restrooms, picnic areas, a swim beach, and the Forebay Aquatic Center with kayaks, paddle boards, and other watercraft available for rent.
Numerous Day Use Area (DUA) facilities with picnic tables and restrooms at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) are open 8 a.m. to sunset. Bidwell, Lime Saddle, and Loafer Creek recreation areas are open 24 hours. The Oroville Dam Crest Road across Oroville Dam is available 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily and open to pedestrians and bicyclists 24-hours a day. The Lake Oroville Visitor Center anticipates re-opening later this fall.
Launching of trailered boats at Lake Oroville’s temporary single-lane boat ramp at the Spillway Boat Ramp area remains closed due to unsafe conditions. Hand launching of small boats such as canoes or kayaks is permitted. As lake levels drop, the condition of the ramp continues to be reassessed for future use.
The Bidwell Canyon Marina at Lake Oroville remains open and is providing shuttle service to boat owners from 8 a.m. until sundown. Boaters are advised to be aware of hazards now that lake levels have reached historic lows. The Thermalito Afterbay and Thermalito South Forebay are open to power boating.
Visit the California Parks LOSRA webpage for current information on facility status and campground reservations. An interactive map of recreation facilities in DWR’s Oroville-Thermalito Complex is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. Information about the 11,000-acre Oroville Wildlife Area is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.
Cold Water Temperatures
Water temperatures in the Feather River and the Thermalito Diversion Pool, Forebay, and Afterbay continue to range between 48- and 58-degrees Fahrenheit as very cold water from the bottom of Lake Oroville is released through Oroville Dam’s River Valve Outlet System (RVOS). Persons recreating on these waterbodies are advised to wear life jackets.
Entering cold water on hot summer days can result in “cold water shock”, causing breathing difficulties as well as changes in heart rate and blood pressure and can be life threatening, especially without a life jacket to help you stay afloat. Find cold-water safety tips at the National Weather Service’s Safety webpage.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 628 feet elevation and storage is about 787-thousand acre-feet, which is 22 percent of its total capacity and 36 percent of historical average. Temperatures are forecasted to be in the low 90s with gradual cooling to the low 80s to mid-70s next week.
Total flows to the Feather River are 1,250 cubic feet per second (cfs) for meeting downstream water quality and flow requirements. Flow in the low-flow channel, through the City of Oroville, is 650 cfs and flow through the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet is 600 cfs. Total releases to the Feather River are assessed daily.
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 9/30/2021