Lake Oroville Community Update - April 28, 2023


Water flowing from main Oroville Spillway

The Lake Oroville Main Spillway. Main spillway releases will continue to manage lake levels. Photo taken March 17, 2023.

Lake Oroville Water Releases Continue

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) continues to make releases from Lake Oroville using the main spillway at Oroville Dam. Ongoing releases ensure continued storage space in Lake Oroville for spring runoff from snowmelt and are closely coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and downstream water operators.


Total releases to the Feather River amount to 21,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) with 9,500 cfs being routed down the low-flow channel which flows through the City of Oroville. An additional 11,500 cfs is being released from the Thermalito Afterbay River Outlet, located 5 miles downstream from Oroville. DWR continues to closely monitor lake levels and will adjust releases accordingly.


Visitors to Oroville Dam may also notice minor amounts of water flowing from drains built into the emergency spillway. As the reservoir level has increased, water flow from the drains has increased, which is normal and expected with the emergency spillway design. The dam and emergency spillway continue to operate as intended.


Since Dec. 1, Lake Oroville’s storage has increased more than 215 feet and gained over 2.1 million acre-feet of water. The Lake Oroville reservoir is the largest storage facility in the State Water Project (SWP) and supports environmental and water delivery needs to 27 million Californians and reduces flood risks to downstream communities. DWR continues to monitor lake levels, weather forecasts, and mountain snow levels to optimize operations for water storage and environmental protection while allowing for carryover storage into next year.    


Blue Green Algae Monitoring

DWR’s environmental scientists began monitoring for blue-green algae and their toxins this week within the Oroville-Thermalito Complex and the upper Feather River lakes. Monitoring occurs during the summer months with water samples taken at various locations regularly, which are sent to a lab for toxin analysis. There are currently no harmful algal bloom (HAB) advisories for Lake Oroville, Upper Feather River lakes, the Thermalito Forebay, or the Thermalito Afterbay.


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 bloom is present and report blooms immediately to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.


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.


Healthy Kids Day

Join the Oroville YMCA on Saturday, April 29 for a celebration of art in the community and Healthy Kids Day activities. Local Oroville schools and community groups will be showcasing performances in dance, theater, and music with visual arts and hands-on workshops. DWR’s Lake Oroville Visitor Center Guides will be promoting Healthy Kids Day activities with an information booth from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. explaining how much water it takes to grow a healthy salad. A fun, hands-on activity will feature a coloring sheet that kids can cut out and glue together to create a healthy take-home salad! As we approach the summer recreation season, DWR will also be providing information on water safety for pools, rivers, and lakes. Stop by the Oroville Convention Center located at 1200 Myers Street from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to partake in a day of family-friendly activities.


Feather Fiesta Days

For more than 70 years, Feather Fiesta Days has been Oroville’s premier hometown celebration with two weekends filled with activities. Festivities begin Saturday, April 29 with the main activities, including a parade and Gold Rush car show, scheduled for Saturday, May 6. Stop by DWR’s booth in downtown Oroville on May 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to learn about recreation opportunities around Lake Oroville. Activities for kids include making a sailboat and water safety handouts.


Learn more about Feather Fiesta Days activities on the Oroville Chamber of Commerce website.


Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee

The Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee (ORAC) will hold a public meeting on Friday, May 5 starting at 10 a.m. at the Southside Oroville Community Center located at 2959 Lower Wyandotte Road, Oroville, CA, 95966.


ORAC was established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review and provide recommendations regarding the Department of Water Resources (DWR) recreation plan for the Oroville Facilities. The 13-member committee is made up of representatives from state and local government, recreation groups, and business and community organizations.


Oroville Recreation

The Lake Oroville Visitor Center is open Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Visitor Center offers numerous educational exhibits, a theater featuring videos about the building of Oroville Dam, walking and hiking trails, and a 47-foot-tall observation tower providing unsurpassed panoramic views.


DWR, State Parks, and CDFW maintain over 92 miles of trails in the Oroville area. An interactive map of recreation facilities, including open boat ramps, and their permitted uses (hike, bike, horse, multi) is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. A paper trail map is available at various locations, including most entrance kiosks and the Visitor Center. The marinas at Bidwell Canyon and Lime Saddle are open daily and provide a variety of services such as a shuttle and boat rentals.


Current Lake Operations

Lake Oroville is at 878 feet elevation and storage is approximately 3.2 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 91 percent of its total capacity and 118 percent of the historical average.


The Feather River releases are at 21,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Flows through the City of Oroville are 9,500 cfs with 11,500 cfs released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 21,000 cfs downstream of the Outlet. DWR continues to assess releases to the Feather River daily.


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


All data as of midnight 4/27/2023.