Lake Oroville Community Update - August 5, 2022


Lime Saddle Marina showing Lake Oroville with a reservoir storage of 1,663,134 acre-feet (AF), 47 percent of the total capacity on July 6, 2022.

Image of Lake Oroville on July 6, 2022.

Oroville Radial Gates Project

During the week of Aug. 8, DWR and contractor staff continue work on the multi-year project to perform maintenance repairs on the eight radial gate hoist assemblies of Oroville Dam’s Flood Control Outlet (FCO), or main spillway, as part of the Oroville Radial Gates Maintenance Repair Project.

Beginning Aug. 8, contractor Unico will start removal of the gate hoist assembly located above FCO radial gate #8 to remove it for inspection and maintenance to address any deficiencies due to wear, age, and serviceability of the equipment. Unico will also fabricate a replica of the hoist assembly (gear motor, wire ropes, gears and pinons, etc.) that will be installed while subsequent hoists are removed for inspection and maintenance. Crane operations from the Spillway bridge may be visible to the public.

The FCO radial gate #8 hoist will be returned by Oct. 31 to ensure the gate is available and fully operational throughout the flood season. Occurring yearly beginning in 2023, maintenance repairs will be performed on one gate hoist assembly per year during the dry season (May 1 to Oct. 31) using the spare hoist assembly.


Water Safety Continued

Over the last two weeks, the Update has featured information on water safety. Recommendations include always wearing a life jacket; abiding by posted boating speed limits – especially around areas where swimmers may be present; and being alert for symptoms of cold-water immersion shock, such as involuntary gasping and rapid breathing, which can quickly become life-threatening.

Those enjoying the waters of California’s lakes, rivers, and streams should also be aware of the Aug. 2 Butte County Department of Public Health (DPH) news release (also posted on their Facebook page) which informs the public to very small parasites that can cause an allergic reaction and/or rash, commonly referred to as swimmers itch. The parasites are released from infected snails and then spread to birds and other water animals who shed the organism, which are more likely to be present in shallow water near the shoreline.

The most common symptoms may include tingling, burning or itching skin, small reddish pimples and small blisters. Swimmer’s itch is not contagious and most cases do not require medical attention. You can reduce the risk by choosing swimming spots carefully – away from marshy areas were snails and waterfowl are commonly found and rinsing off thoroughly immediately after leaving the water and then drying vigorously with a clean towel.

Taking sensible and even extra precautions when recreating around or in the water will help keep you and your family safe this summer. For more information on boating requirements and safety, visit the California Division of Boating and Waterways and the Center for Disease Control for an informative webpage on swimmers itch.

For additional safety information, see the Blue-green algae section below.

Blue Green Algae Monitoring

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is a natural component of ecosystems. Under certain conditions, including warmer temperatures and increased nutrient loads, algae can grow rapidly causing “blooms.” Algal blooms sometimes produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals.

Dogs and small children are most likely to be affected by harmful algal blooms (HABs) due to their smaller body size and probability to play in water for longer periods. Animals are especially susceptible to the toxins because they tend to drink while in the water and lick their fur afterwards.

DWR urges recreational users to take the necessary precautions and stay away from all algae since there is no way to tell if an algal bloom is toxic just by looking at it. Indicators can be mats, scum, or foam at the surface or along the shoreline, streaks in the water that look like spilled paint, or gasoline-like, septic, or fishy odors. Visit this comparison chart on the HABs website for additional information.

DWR environmental scientists regularly monitor Lake Oroville, the Thermalito North Forebay, and the Thermalito Afterbay for blue-green algae and their toxins, taking water samples from various locations regularly from Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are currently no harmful algal bloom (HAB) advisories for Lake Oroville, the Thermalito Forebay, or the Thermalito Afterbay.

If elevated levels of cyanobacteria toxins are found, DWR staff work with California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board and recreation area managers to notify the public and post advisory signs at affected waterbodies. To learn more about HABs, or to report a HAB, visit the Water Board’s website.


Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission Meeting

The California Natural Resources Agency held its 11th Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission meeting on July 29, 2022. The public meeting at Oroville’s Southside Community Center included a brief update on the development of the Commission report, a recap of a flood safety stakeholder technical workshop held in April, and a presentation from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) on dam facilities management and annual maintenance planning.

Members of the public offered comments and asked questions. The Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission is a forum for questions and feedback from the communities surrounding Oroville Dam. The meeting transcript and presentations will be available on the Commission’s website in the coming weeks at

Oroville Recreation

The Lake Oroville area has over 92 miles of trails, many open to horseback riding, with spectacular views of Lake Oroville and the valley, home to the Sutter Buttes – named the smallest mountain range in the world. Trails, permitted uses, day use areas, boat ramps and other recreation facilities are featured on DWR’s interactive map on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. Step inside the Lake Oroville Visitor Center, open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., to learn about the State Water Project and history of the area.


At Lake Oroville, the Lime Saddle, Bidwell Canyon, Spillway, and Loafer Point boat ramps are open, along with the Lime Saddle and Bidwell Canyon marinas, and reservations for campgrounds in the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) can be made by visiting the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CA Parks) LOSRA website.


The Thermalito Forebay and Afterbay also provide a wide range of recreation opportunities including fishing, hiking, biking and boating. Non-motorized boating is permitted in the North Forebay, and motorized boating is only permitted in the South Forebay and Afterbay. The North Forebay Aquatic Center has kayaks, paddle boards, and other watercraft available for rent. Non-motorized boating is also permitted in the Thermalito Diversion Pool with kayak access just before the restroom on Cherokee Road. Lake Oroville and the Oroville Wildlife Area also have car-top boat launch areas.


Plumas National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service has implemented Stage II Fire Restrictions in the Plumas National Forest due to increasing fire danger and dry forest fuels from extended hot weather. Under Stage II Fire Restrictions, campfires are only allowed at specifically designated campgrounds with a host and in established fire rings. Information about additional restrictions on smoking, use of internal combustion engines, wood cutting, and the California Campfire Permit can be found on the Plumas National Forest website.


Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 722 feet elevation and storage is about 1.44 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 41 percent of its total capacity and 62 percent of historical average. Temperatures are forecasted to continue in the upper 90s through the weekend and into next week.


The Feather River releases are currently at 3,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to meet downstream Delta water quality and outflow needs. Flows through the City of Oroville are 1,000 cfs with 2,500 cfs released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 3,500 cfs downstream of the Outlet. Flows through the low flow channel may fluctuate through the week for fisheries purposes. 


The public can track precipitation, snow, reservoir levels, and more at the California Data Exchange Center at The Lake Oroville gage station is identified as “ORO”.


All data as of midnight 8/4/2022