Lake Oroville Community Update - November 13, 2020


CA Conservation Corps members install erosion control measures to protect water quality.

California Conservation Corps members install erosion control measures to protect water quality. DWR/ 2020

DWR Completes Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has published a summary report of the Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA). The CNA was initiated in January 2018 to identify dam safety and operational needs following reconstruction of the spillways damaged in February 2017. A team of dam safety experts, engineers, consultants, and community representatives participated in the assessment which determined that the Oroville Dam Complex is safe to operate and no urgent repairs are needed.

The CNA identified several risk-reduction projects that DWR already is moving to implement, including installation of new water pressure measurement devices to improve seepage monitoring and completion of a state-of-the-art seismic stability analysis. DWR also is planning to implement recommendations to raise Parish Camp Saddle Dam by three feet, line Palermo Canal to reduce leakage and improve rock slope stability, and install new remote starter and power connections to the spillway radial gates to improve reliability. In addition, the CNA identified potential vulnerabilities that require further examination to better understand their actual risk. 

A description of the CNA risk-assessment process, the CNA Summary Report and links to the meetings of the Ad Hoc Group of community representatives can be found on the Comprehensive Needs Assessment webpage.

California Natural Resources Agency Holds Virtual Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission Public Meeting

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), in accordance with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s directives to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, held the fifth Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC) meeting in a virtual format on Friday, Nov. 13. The meeting’s agenda included an update on the Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) as well as information on winter operations and communications with the public. Public comments were received and discussed. Persons interested in learning more are directed to the CAC’s website for information.  

The Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission, created by Senate Bill 955 (Nielsen) in 2018, established a new public forum for discussing issues related to Oroville Dam facilities. The Commission, housed within the 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.

Fire Impacts to Lake Oroville

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is a member of the “Watershed Working Group” led by the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES). The working group is a multi-agency team evaluating and identifying areas of concern in the Feather River watershed affected by recent wildfires.

DWR’s Division of Flood Management is assisting California Conservation Corps members to install erosion control measures in areas of concern and DWR water quality experts have expanded water sampling activities at Lake Oroville to monitor for algal blooms and other environmental concerns.

The clearing of debris entering Lake Oroville is part of ongoing DWR maintenance of Lake Oroville. Additional work is planned to protect boaters and ensure safe operation of dam facilities. Several ancillary DWR facilities around Lake Oroville experienced fire damage. DWR staff are making repairs to the impacted facilities.

Oroville Recreation

The Lime Saddle and Oroville Dam Spillway boat ramps remain open. The Bidwell Canyon boat launch has restricted hours of operation (see section below). The Potter’s Ravine and North Fork trails near the Oroville Dam Spillway boat launch area and trails in the Loafer Creek Recreation Area are closed to repair fire damage. Enterprise, Stringtown, and Foreman Creek boat ramp areas, the Loafer Creek Recreation Area, and Lake Oroville Visitor Center remain closed.

Visit the California Parks Lake Oroville State Recreation Area (LOSRA) webpage for current information on facility status as well as current requirements to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Information is also available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. For information about the Oroville Wildlife Area, including the Thermalito Afterbay, visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage.

Bidwell Canyon Boat Ramp Construction

The Bidwell Canyon boat ramp project has experienced delays due to the national shortage of concrete, pushing the project’s anticipated completion date to December. The contractor was able to obtain a concrete shipment this week, continuing the construction started in 2018 to expand the parking area and provide two additional boat ramp lanes to Elevation 700 (feet above sea level). Construction staff have repaired the boat ramp’s access road, allowing weekend use from 5 a.m. Saturdays to midnight Sundays to resume. Kelly Ridge and Arroyo Drive residents should anticipate large construction equipment and material deliveries in the area as construction activities continue on weekdays.    

As they do every fall, lake levels are decreasing. Loading docks are available at both Lime Saddle and Oroville Dam Spillway boat ramps and docks will remain available for use until lake levels drop below approximately 700 feet elevation. The Bidwell Canyon Marina and shuttle services remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Loafer Creek Recreation Area remains closed for fire recovery and its boat ramps are out of the water.

Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee

The Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee (ORAC) held its fall meeting on Nov. 6. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was not open to the public to protect public health. ORAC was established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review and provide recommendations regarding the DWR Recreation Plan for the Lake Oroville State Recreation Area. To obtain a summary of the meeting, send a request to

Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 719 feet and storage is about 1.4 million acre-feet. Currently, in the Northern Sierra Basin, rainfall is below average, at 5 percent of normal for this time of year. Cooler temperatures continuing this weekend and into the week of November 16, with additional rain in the forecast beginning on Tuesday.   

The total releases to the Feather River continue at 2,450 cfs to meet downstream Bay-Delta water quality and flow standards. The Feather River flows consist of 800 cfs through the Low Flow Channel adjacent to the City of Oroville, and 1,650 cfs from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 2,450 cfs for the Feather River’s high flow channel downstream of the Outlet. 

All data as of midnight 11/12/2020

How Are We Doing?

DWR is looking for your help to improve how the Department communicates with the Oroville community and persons interested in receiving information about DWR’s operations at the Oroville-Thermalito Complex. Your feedback through this online survey will help DWR enhance current communication tools and develop new ones to ensure more comprehensive and transparent communication to the public. Comments can also be shared by emailing DWR at Your participation is very much appreciated!