Lake Oroville Community Update - September 10, 2021


Lake Oroville at an elevation of 650.65 feet, 26 percent of total capacity or 35 percent of average capacity, on July 26, 2021.

Image of Lake Oroville at an elevation of 650.65 feet, 26 percent of total capacity, on July 26, 2021.

Oroville Area Algal Blooms Status

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) Oroville Field Division has concluded recreational swim beach cyanotoxin monitoring this week. This year no toxic algal blooms were detected at beaches in either the Thermalito Afterbay or the Thermalito Forebay.


Monitoring for cyanotoxins at the at these water bodies occurs weekly from Memorial Day to Labor Day. DWR’s Environmental Scientists will continue to assess any reported algal blooms as visitors continue to enjoy these recreation areas.


At Lake Oroville, DWR’s Environmental Scientists will continue to monitor for Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). If elevated levels of cyanotoxins are found, 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. At this time there are no advisories in place.


How can you keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe from 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.


Feather River Cleanup

DWR will be participating in the annual Feather River Cleanup Event, hosted by the Feather River Recreation and Park District (FRRPD) on Saturday, September 18 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event to restore the health of the Feather River and surrounding trails includes trash pickup and invasive plant removal. DWR will provide two boats and staff to support the in-river portion of the cleanup event and have coordinated with FRRPD and Recology on the removal of collected in-river trash and large debris.


Volunteers are directed to check-in at Riverbend Park’s Salmon Pavilion at the end of Montgomery Street in Oroville. Supplies will be provided but volunteers are encouraged to wear long pants, long sleeved shirts, and boots or sturdy shoes. Sunscreen, water, and work gloves are also recommended.


Salmon Festival

The Oroville Salmon Festival is scheduled for September 25 to celebrate the return of salmon to the Feather River. Always held on the last Saturday in September, the celebration was canceled in 2020. Due to the ongoing pandemic, additional hand washing/sanitizing stations and free masks will be provided to promote public health and safety at this year’s event. No tours will be provided at the Feather River Fish Hatchery (FRFH) but the Viewing Area, fish ladder, and underwater viewing window remain open to the public. The event will be centered around historic downtown Oroville and the newly renovated Oroville Convention Center (formerly Memorial Auditorium) with an activity zone, food vendors, music, craft fair, car show, and informational booths.


Those wanting to see the salmon in their natural habitat can sign up for “Float with the Salmon” raft trips down the Feather River. DWR biologists accompanying each raft will offer “on-the-water” education about the salmonid life cycle and river habitat. For details, visit the Salmon Festival’s website.


Oroville Recreation

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.


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.


Boating at Oroville

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 remains open and is providing shuttle service to boat owners from 8 a.m. until sundown.

Trees, stumps, and landforms are surfacing due to low lake elevations, creating navigational hazards. Boating on Lake Oroville is not permitted starting one-half hour after sunset and ending one-half hour before sunrise.


Houseboats and vessels remaining on the water must be on their mooring ball or in a slip during hours of lake closure. Additional information can be obtained by calling State Parks at (530) 538-2200.


Power boats are allowed on the Thermalito South Forebay as well as the Thermalito Afterbay. A 5-miles per hour speed limit for all boats is in force on the Afterbay north of the Highway 162 bridge and near the brood ponds on the east side of the reservoir. No motorized boating is allowed in the Thermalito North Forebay.


The Monument Hill facility at Thermalito Afterbay provides boat ramp access, restrooms, a picnic area, and a swim beach. The Thermalito South Forebay facility has a two-lane boat ramp, parking, restroom, picnic tables, BBQs, shade trees, and a fish cleaning station.


Drought Information

DWR has created a “Drought” webpage where definitions, historical trends, current information, and maps of California’s water systems can be found. Links to resources, DWR activities, research, and data are available. Read about how heatwaves are impacting drought conditions on the DWR Updates webpage. The State of California recently launched a website This website will serve as the State’s primary location for public drought news and information.


DWR is encouraging water conservation efforts by all Californians. Find out ways you can help by visiting the “Save Our Water” website.


Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 630 feet elevation and storage is about 793-thousand acre-feet, which is 22 percent of its total capacity and 35 percent of historical average. Temperatures are cooling this weekend to the low 90s and projected to increase to the mid-90s 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 Lake Oroville is identified as “ORO”.


All data as of midnight 9/9/2021