Lake Oroville Community Update - August 28, 2020


An aerial view of Loafer Creek Boat Ramp and parking lot.

Aerial view of Lake Oroville. DWR/ 2019

Oroville Recreation Update

The Potters Fire burned over 900 acres, including areas adjacent to Oroville Dam’s main and emergency spillways, the Spillway Boat Ramp area, and the Thermalito Diversion Pool. Visitors are advised to remain mindful of air quality and to stay away from fire-damaged areas.


All Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) boat ramps, parking lots, and day use areas are open, including North and South Forebay facilities. The Oroville Dam Spillway Boat Ramp and day use area is open for use 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. The nearby Potters Ravine trail complex experienced significant damage from the Potters Fire and will be closed through the winter for rehabilitation work. Affected trails on the south side of the Thermalito Diversion Pool, including the Dan Beebe and Lakeland trails are open for use. The Brad Freeman Trail on the north side of the Diversion Pool remains closed just before Morris Ravine. The Diversion Pool’s car-top boat launch is open. Information about and current status of Lake Oroville recreation facilities is available on the Department of Water Resources (DWR) Lake Oroville Recreation webpage and on the LOSRA webpage.


The Lake Oroville Visitors Center remains closed and boat-in, floating, and group campsites are not currently available to reduce the spread of COVID-19. For information about available State Parks camping, as well as COVID-19 public health requirements while recreating, visit


Bidwell Canyon Boat Ramp Work to Resume in September

The Bidwell Canyon Boat Ramp Stage Two Improvement Project is scheduled to resume September 1, depending on Lake Oroville elevation. As lake levels decrease, construction will continue on a project that started in Fall 2018 to expand the Stage Two parking area and provide two additional Stage Two boat ramp lanes to 700 feet. Construction was halted in February 2019 due to rising lake levels.


Kelly Ridge and Arroyo Drive residents can expect to see large construction equipment, as well as rock and concrete deliveries, in the area beginning early September from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays as the contractor works to complete the project by mid-November. Work will not occur over the Labor Day weekend. Last year, the Stage Two project constructed a new lower-level, concrete parking lot, expanded Bidwell Canyon’s mid-level boat launch from three to five lanes and added two boarding float lanes. Construction also improved the vertical curve at the top of the boat ramp to accommodate larger trailers.


Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission Meeting Held by California Natural Resources Agency

The California Natural Resources Agency’s (CNRA) virtual meeting of the fourth Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC) on August 21 covered ongoing dam safety initiatives, including the Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment, and discussed planned improvements based on the study’s risk-assessment findings. DWR’s current and planned recreation improvement projects were highlighted and information about Lake Oroville State Recreation Area’s facilities was shared. The public was able to ask questions and make comments. The presentation slides are available on the CAC website and a video recording, transcript, and summary of the meeting will be added in the coming weeks.

The Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission, created by Senate Bill 955 (Nielsen) in 2018, established a public forum for discussing issues related to Oroville Dam facilities. The Commission, housed within CNRA, represents the communities surrounding Oroville Dam for the purposes of providing public input as well as receiving information from state agencies related to the Oroville Dam, its related structures, the Feather River Fish Hatchery, and the Oroville-Thermalito Complex.


Oroville Area Algal Blooms Status

DWR’s Oroville Field Division will wrap up recreational swim beach cyanotoxin monitoring next week. Monitoring for cyanotoxins at the Thermalito Forebay and Thermalito Afterbay occurs weekly from Memorial Day to Labor Day. DWR’s Environmental Scientists will continue to assess any reported algal blooms in these areas.


At Lake Oroville, harmful algal blooms (HAB’s) continue to be present in many locations and DWR’s Environmental Scientists will continue to monitor these blooms until they dissipate. If elevated levels of cyanotoxins are found, staff will work with California’s Regional Water Quality Control Board and recreation area managers to notify the public and post advisory signs at the affected waterbody. At this time there are no advisories in place.


How can you keep yourself, your family, and your pets safe from HAB’s? Visit the Water Board’s website and DWR’s digital article on the DWR Updates webpage. The public is encouraged to report algal blooms on the HAB reporting webpage.


Learn all about Salmon

Join us for Water Wednesdays at 1 p.m. on DWR’s YouTube channel and learn all about salmon over the next few weeks. These family-friendly programs are designed for kids 10 to 14 but are appropriate for anyone who would like to learn more about California’s water resources. The fall season began August 26 with a five-part look at the lifecycle of the Chinook salmon that spawn in the Feather River, travel downriver, through the Delta, and finally to the ocean. Interested participants can pre-register through Zoom which will allow them to ask real time questions of the speaker.

Visit the DWR Events webpage at to join or register for next Wednesday’s chat. Information will also be posted on DWR’s social media pages at @CA_DWR (Twitter) and @CADWR (Facebook). Water Wednesdays began in May 2020 and previous episodes are available on DWR’s YouTube channel – enter Water Wednesdays in the search bar.


Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 753 feet and storage is about 1.7 million acre-feet. Daily average inflows to the lake have ranged between 1,588 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 2,437 over the past week. High temperatures will continue into the first week of September. The Northern Sierra Basin rainfall totals remains below average for the year, at 63 percent of normal.

The total releases to Feather River are 2,100 cfs to meet downstream Bay-Delta water quality and flow standards. Flows through the City of Oroville are about 950 cfs and likely to be slightly reduced for fisheries purposes in early September. Flows from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) are about 1,150 cfs for a total of 2,100 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel downstream of the Outlet. Throughout the week flows through the City of Oroville and the Outlet may fluctuate for fisheries purposes.


All data as of midnight 8/27/2020