Lake Oroville Community Update - May 12, 2023


A drone provides an aerial view of a cloud mist formed as water flows over the four energy dissipater blocks at the end of the Lake Oroville Main Spillway.

Aerial view of a cloud mist formed as water flows over the four energy dissipator blocks at the end of the Lake Oroville Main Spillway.

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 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) with 650 cfs being routed down the low-flow channel which flows through the City of Oroville. An additional 9,350 cfs is being released from the Thermalito Afterbay River Outlet, located 5 miles downstream from Oroville. Water releases are scheduled to increase to 15,000 cfs on Sunday, May 14. DWR continues to closely monitor lake levels and will adjust releases accordingly to optimize operations for water storage and environmental protection while allowing for carryover storage into next year.  


Since Dec. 1, Lake Oroville’s storage has increased approximately 230 feet and gained over 2.3 million acre-feet of water. Lake Oroville is currently at 95 percent capacity and is expected to reach full capacity this spring. 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.


Hours Extended for Spillway Day-Use Area

As the summer months approach and daylight hours linger, the Spillway Boat Ramp and Day Use Area is now open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. All vehicles and trailers are subject to inspection by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) for security purposes. There are five other boat ramps at Lake Oroville that are open 24 hours/day and do not entail CHP inspections: Bidwell Canyon, Loafer Point, Loafer Creek, Lime Saddle and Enterprise.


DWR and CDFW Release Salmon

On Monday, May 15, approximately 125,000 Chinook salmon will be planted into Lake Oroville. These fish were raised at the Feather River Fish Hatchery and are part of an ongoing DWR and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) program to support recreational fishery at Lake Oroville.


Water Safety Month

The State Water Project’s (SWP) reservoirs located throughout California will welcome the upcoming summer months with high water levels. Heavy storms this past winter will also bring fast flows and cold temperatures to rivers and streams as mountain snow melts. When recreating at SWP facilities, you should always keep water safety a top priority and stay alert for cold, fast, and fluctuating water conditions.


As part of Water Safety Month, keep these water safety tips in mind to have a fun and safe summer:

  • Wear a life jacket
  • Swim in safe or designated areas only and near a lifeguard
  • Swim with a buddy
  • Be aware of drop-offs into deep water
  • Watch for hidden debris and slippery rocks
  • Look before you leap or dive
  • Check for algal bloom updates
  • Know your GPS location


Lake Oroville, the SWP’s largest reservoir, has more than 167 miles of shoreline and is a perfect location for boating, fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, swimming or paddleboarding. Those seeking to spend more than a day relaxing on the lake can rent houseboats from local marinas, stay at one of three campgrounds at the lake, or reserve floating campsites through the California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks).


Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee

The Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee (ORAC) met Friday, May 5 at the Southside Oroville Community Center. 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. To obtain a summary of the meeting, send a request to


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, 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. Paved trails at the Lake Oroville Visitor Center, Spillway Day Use Area, and at the North Forebay Day Use Area offer accessible trails with only slight elevation changes. Other trails, such as the Brad Freeman Trail near Oroville Dam, offer steep elevation changes to challenge hikers and mountain bikers. The Saddle Dam Trailhead has facilities for equestrians including a large parking area to accommodate horse trailers, water troughs, and hitching posts, and easy access to trails designated for hikers and horses.


An interactive map of recreation facilities, including open boat ramps, and their permitted uses 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 889 feet elevation and storage is approximately 3.37 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 95 percent of its total capacity and 122 percent of the historical average.


The Feather River releases are at 10,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). Flows through the City of Oroville are 650 cfs with 9,350 cfs released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 10,000 cfs downstream of the Outlet. Water releases are scheduled to increase to 15,000 cfs on Sunday, May 14. 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 5/11/2023.