The hot weather is pushing more people to visit and explore our local waterways, lakes, and reservoirs, including the Feather River and Lake Oroville. Boaters are reminded to place safety as their top priority by making sure they and their passengers are wearing life jackets. U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that 80 percent of all drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. Abiding by posted speed limits and signage, particularly regarding locations where swimming is prohibited such as in marinas or near boat docks or launch ramps, as well as paying attention to warning buoys, especially in reservoirs or other waterbodies with fluctuating water elevations, can greatly increase the safety of those with and around you.
Lake Oroville has a lake-wide 5-mph speed limit at nighttime and personal watercraft or jet skis are prohibited from nighttime operation, even if they have navigation lights. Hours of operation at Thermalito Afterbay are 1.5 hours before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Boaters there are reminded of that waterbody’s 5-mph limit north of the Highway 162 bridge and, for all waterbodies, within 200 yards of shore.
Water enthusiasts are also reminded that, even on a hot day, the water temperature can be cold and trigger cold water immersion shock. Cold water reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature and can quickly turn a good time into a life-threatening situation. Knowing the symptoms of hypothermia (when your body loses heat faster than it be produced) such as uncontrollable shivering, blue lips, clumsiness or lack of coordination, or bright red, cold skin, particularly among children who may be unaware of, or desire to ignore, their symptoms, can prevent a tragedy from occurring. If you suspect you or someone else is having these symptoms, act quickly to get out of the water, seek help, and begin gradual warming of the body.
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 cold-water safety tips at the National Weather Service’s Safety webpage.
Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission Meeting
The California Natural Resources Agency is hosting its 11th Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission meeting on July 29, 10 a.m. to Noon. The public meeting will be held at the Southside Community Center in Oroville, located at 2959 Lower Wyandotte Road, Oroville, CA 95966, and will include presentations and public comment.
The Commission will receive 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.
Time for public input is also scheduled. The Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission is a forum for questions and feedback from the communities surrounding Oroville Dam. For information on the meeting, please visit https://bit.ly/OrovilleCAC.
Four paved boat ramps at Lime Saddle, Bidwell Canyon, Spillway, and Loafer Point are open at Lake Oroville, 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.
Restrooms, potable water, and fish cleaning stations are not in service at the Spillway Boat Ramp area, but portable toilets are provided – please plan visits accordingly. A water and sewer pipeline replacement project is underway to restore these utilities. Please be aware of construction traffic in the vicinity of the Spillway Day Use Area.
The Thermalito Forebay and Afterbay 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. Boaters are reminded to abide by speed limits near boat launch areas and north of the Highway 162 bridge where speed limits are five (5) miles per hour. Visitors are reminded to abide by all posted signage regarding permitted swimming areas (never near boating docks) to ensure public safety for all. Swimming near boat docks is dangerous – risks include propeller strikes and boat collisions, carbon monoxide poisoning from boat exhaust, electrical shock from shorted wiring in boats or docks, and an increased chance of polluted waters where boats are launched and retrieved.
The North Forebay Aquatic Center has kayaks, paddle boards, and other watercraft available for rent Thursday through Sunday. 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. Visit the interactive map of recreation facilities in DWR’s Oroville-Thermalito Complex on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. And 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.
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. 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.
Current Lake Operations
The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 733 feet elevation and storage is about 1.53 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 43 percent of its total capacity and 62 percent of historical average. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 100s through the weekend and into next week.
The Feather River releases, currently at 4,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), are scheduled to decrease to 3,750 cfs on Friday, July 22, to meet downstream Delta water quality and outflow needs. Flows through the City of Oroville will be reduced to 1,300 cfs with 2,450 cfs released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 3,750 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 www.cdec.water.ca.gov. The Lake Oroville gage station is identified as “ORO”.
All data as of midnight 7/21/2022