Lake Oroville Community Update - January 28, 2022
Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee
The Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee will hold a public virtual meeting on Friday, Feb. 4 at 9 a.m. Interested persons can join the meeting on Zoom at https://ca-water-gov.zoom.us/j/86898170840?pwd=VmRadjZsQmQrVGpJWk1jayt1UHI5Zz09 or visit the DWR Events webpage.
ORAC was established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review and provide recommendations regarding DWR’s recreation plan for the Project-2100 – Oroville Facilities. The 13-member committee is made up of representatives from state and local government, sports and recreation groups, and business and community organizations.
Loafer Point Boat Ramp
The Loafer Point Stage II boat ramp has reopened for boat launching. The first construction phase of the new boat ramp was completed in May 2021, adding six boat launch lanes to 707 feet, 180 trailered parking spaces, and offering immediate access to the open waters of Lake Oroville. Falling lake levels due to drought conditions forced its closure a month later in June 2021.
Taking advantage of historic low lake elevations, construction to extend three of the six boat launch lanes further into the lakebed to improve low-water access to Lake Oroville began the first week of October and succeeded in constructing lanes to 675 feet before rising lake elevations prevented further work. With lake elevations currently at 744 feet, all six lanes of the Stage II boat ramp are currently available.
The Loafer Point Stage I boat ramp was completed in 2020 and added three new boat launch lanes from a full lake down to 805 feet, a new parking area, and a restroom facility. Both boat ramps are adjacent to the Loafer Creek Recreation Day Use Area and Campground, rounding out a full-service recreation destination with nearby trails, campgrounds, boating, and marina. Excepting the Loafer Point Stage II boat ramp and the trails network, the remainder of the Loafer Creek Recreation Area is currently closed due to waterline repair. Trails within the Loafer Creek Recreation Area can be accessed from the Bidwell Saddle Dam Trailhead located on Kelly Ridge Road.
DWR Issues Revised Water Allocation
Due to the series of storms in December 2021, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has increased the State Water Project (SWP) allocation to 15 percent of requested supplies for 2022, an increase over the December allocation that covered only critical health and safety needs of the 29 water agencies that contract to receive State Water Project supplies.
While drought conditions still persist, December’s precipitation enabled DWR to convey and store water in San Luis Reservoir, allowing for the modest increase in water deliveries. DWR continues to plan for a third dry year by preserving storage in Lake Oroville, the State Water Project’s largest reservoir. Water releases from Lake Oroville will be prioritized to maintain Delta water quality, protect endangered species, and meet senior water right needs.
Each year, DWR makes an initial SWP allocation on Dec. 1. Allocations are updated as snowpack and runoff information are assessed, with a final allocation typically determined in May or June. Read the full news release on the DWR News webpage.
Lakeside Access Road
Construction activities associated with the Lakeside Access Road project continue to result in intermittent closures of the Oroville Dam Crest parking lot on the northwest side of the dam as well as the Spillway Boat Ramp area. These short duration closures are anticipated to continue until the end of February. The popular walking/bicycling trail across the top of the dam will remain open and parking will continue to be available at the Upper Overlook.
This project will consist of a new, permanent, paved road from the west side of Oroville Dam to the Spillway Boat Ramp parking lot on the “lakeside,” or waterside, of the Oroville Dam spillways. This new road will allow a more direct route when water levels are low in Lake Oroville. The new road will include two concrete traffic lanes, wide shoulders for walking and biking, guardrails, and safety signage.
The Loafer Point Stage II, Bidwell Canyon Stage II, and Lime Saddle Boat Ramps are open. The Spillway boat ramp remains closed for repair. The Foreman Creek and Stringtown cartop boat ramps have also reopened. Information on current boat ramp status can be found on the State Park’s Lake Oroville State Recreation Area webpage. Scroll down to the link for “Current Boat Ramp Status”.
The Lake Oroville Visitor Center is open to the public on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pick up the Lake Oroville Trails Map, which shows more than 97 miles of trails available to equestrians, bicyclists, and hikers, at Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) kiosks, the Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce, or the Feather River Recreation and Parks District. The Loafer Creek Recreation Area continues to be closed due to continued waterline repair (boat ramp access allowed).
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.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 744 feet elevation and storage is about 1.62 million acre-feet, which is 46 percent of its total capacity and 80 percent of historical average. The forecast is for highs in the low- to mid-60s and lows in the low 40s coupled with dry conditions this weekend and into next week.
The average daily inflows this week have been in the range of 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 4,000 cfs. Inflows through the weekend and next week are forecasted to be in the range of 2,000 to 3,500 cfs. Inflows are subject to change based upon on actual weather conditions.
Total flows to the Feather River were increased on Friday and Saturday to 3,000 cfs. This increase is for downstream water quality and flow requirements. By Saturday, flow in the low-flow channel through the City of Oroville will be 650 cfs and flow through the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet will be 2,350 cfs. Releases 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. The Lake Oroville gage station is identified as “ORO”.
All data as of midnight 1/27/2022