Lake Oroville Community Update - June 24, 2022


aerial view of Lake Oroville on May 24, 2022

Aerial view of Lake Oroville on May 24, 2022

Apprentice Opportunities

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) paid apprenticeship program exams will be available June 24 to June 30 for those interested in applying for electrician, operator, mechanic, or utility craftsworker positions in California’s hydroelectric industry. Most apprenticeship positions have education requirements of equivalent to graduation from high school and knowledge of basic arithmetic and algebra, electrical fundamentals, and mechanical principles.

The online exams are currently posted on DWR’s CalCareers webpage with links to the individual exams for Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) Electrician Apprentice, HEP Mechanic Apprentice, HEP Operator Apprentice, and Utility Craftsworker Apprentice. Applying for more than one apprenticeship position is permitted but interested persons are reminded the online exams will only be available Friday, June 24 through Thursday, June 30. Passing applicants will be ranked and those with scores higher than 70 will be placed on the position’s eligible for hire list and can then apply for the apprenticeship program’s position openings. More information is available on the DWR Updates webpage.

DWR has eight hydroelectric powerplants in the State Water Project, three of which are in the Oroville-Thermalito Complex – Edward Hyatt Powerplant, Thermalito Diversion Dam Powerplant, and Ronald B. Robie Thermalito Pumping-Generating Plant.

Fourth of July Fireworks

The City of Oroville’s Noon Rotary Club fireworks will begin at approximately 9 p.m. on July Fourth and will be launched from the Oroville Airport. A Red Flag (severe fire danger) Warning from the National Weather Service for July Fourth will cancel the display. The morning at the airport will be filled with an airplane “fly-in”, pancake breakfast, car show, and airplane rides.

Viewers are encouraged to observe the fireworks show from their homes, if possible, or higher locations throughout the City of Oroville and surrounding area. The Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation Area will close at sunset on Sunday, July 3 and remain closed until 8 a.m. Tuesday, July 5. The Nelson Avenue Sports Complex will be open but the pool will be closed. The Oroville Wildlife Area and Thermalito Afterbay will also maintain normal operating hours on July Fourth: 1.5 hours before sunrise to one hour after sunset. Information on morning activities at the airport, suggested viewing locations for the fireworks, and other event information is available on the Oroville Area Chamber of Commerce website. 

Water Quality Working Group

In November and December 2020, a multi-agency task force comprised of the State Water Resources Control Board and Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board; Butte County Department of Public Works; California Department of Water Resources; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; California Department of Parks and Recreation; and Governor’s Office of Emergency Services came together as the ‘Watershed Working Group’ to address water quality concerns in the North Complex Wildfire burn area and downstream. In 2021, the burn area of the Dixie Wildfire was added for monitoring, and additional partner agencies were added to the working group.

Widespread testing of surface waters throughout these burn scars in Butte and Plumas counties has been completed. Sampling results over the winter of 2021-22 revealed that while contaminant levels were slightly elevated in some instances, they did not exceed primary drinking water contaminant thresholds, and did not adversely impact drinking water treatment facilities or the quality of drinking water they deliver to their communities.

The working group’s agencies will now transition to routine water quality monitoring, which includes monitoring for issues such as Harmful Algal Blooms. Building on the success of the collaboration, this working group will continue to meet to discuss watershed health and be ready for the upcoming fire season. The public is reminded to always treat surface waters before drinking or cooking when recreating outdoors. Homeowners with wells in burn scar areas should review their well construction and consider contacting their county Environmental Health Division for information about testing well water.

Blue Green Algae Monitoring

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) environmental scientists regularly monitor for blue-green algae and their toxins during the summer months. There are currently no harmful algal bloom (HAB) advisories for Lake Oroville, Upper Feather River lakes, the Thermalito Forebay, or the Thermalito Afterbay. Water samples are taken at various locations regularly from Memorial Day through Labor Day and sent to a lab for toxin analysis.

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. Algal blooms can make the water appear green, blue, or brown in color. Seeing colors, mats, foam, scum, or paint-like streaks in the water may indicate a bloom is present. Keep animals and children away from the water when a suspected HAB is present and report the possible HAB immediately.

If elevated levels of cyanobacteria toxins are found while testing, DWR staff will 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 Recreation

The Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) is open for boating, camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and much more. The four main paved boat ramps at Lime Saddle, Bidwell Canyon, Spillway, and Loafer Point are open, along with the Lime Saddle and Bidwell Canyon marinas, and campground reservations 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.

The Thermalito Forebays and Afterbay also provide a wide range of water recreation opportunities along with hiking trails, the Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation area for Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) (south of Oroville Airport), and the 11,000 acres of prime wildlife viewing in the Oroville Wildlife Area. The OWA is administered for DWR by CDFW and information about the 11,000-acre Oroville Wildlife Area is available on the CDFW webpage. The Forebay Aquatic Center in the North Forebay Recreation Area is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday to Sunday with kayaks, paddle boards, and other watercraft available for rent. The Lake Oroville Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

An interactive map of recreation facilities in DWR’s Oroville-Thermalito Complex is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. Visitors are encouraged to be fire smart, bring plenty of sunscreen, stay hydrated, avoid leaving valuables in visible areas, be prepared for cold water temperatures, and be mindful of personal safety and the safety of those around you.

Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 761 feet elevation and storage is about 1.78 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 50 percent of its total capacity and 66 percent of historical average. Extreme heat above 100 degrees is expected to continue through the weekend and temperatures are forecasted to drop to the upper 90s next week.

The Feather River releases were increased last week and are currently at 3,500 cubic feet per second (cfs) to meet downstream Delta water quality and outflow needs. Currently, flows down the low flow channel will be ramping down beginning on Saturday and by Monday, flows through the City of Oroville are planned to be at 650 cfs with 2,850 cfs released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 3,500 cfs downstream of the Outlet. 

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 6/23/2022