Lake Oroville Community Update - July 29, 2022
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 https://bit.ly/OrovilleCAC.
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 within 200 yards of shore for all waterbodies in California.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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 727 feet elevation and storage is about 1.47 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 42 percent of its total capacity and 62 percent of historical average. Temperatures are forecasted to continue in the low 100s through the weekend and into next week.
The Feather River releases are currently at 3,750 cubic feet per second (cfs) to meet downstream Delta water quality and outflow needs. Flows through the City of Oroville are 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 7/28/2022