Lake Oroville Community Update - September 4, 2020


An aerial view of Bidwell Bar Bridge at Lake Oroville

An aerial view of Bidwell Bar Bridge at Lake Oroville. DWR/2018

Oroville Recreation Update

Oroville area recreation facilities are expected to be popular destinations for the Labor Day holiday. With the exception of the Potters Ravine trail complex near the Oroville Dam Spillway Boat Ramp area (damaged in last month’s Potters Fire), 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 Potters Ravine and North Fork trail complex experienced significant damage from the Potters Fire and will be closed through the winter for rehabilitation work. The recent 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.


California State Parks (CA Parks) has completed repairs to fire-damaged areas on the Thermalito Diversion Pool’s Brad Freeman Trail between Burma Road and the Spillway Boat Ramp trailhead. Bikers and hikers are now able to enjoy this challenging trail with its spectacular views of the valley. The Dan Beebe and Lakeland trails on the south side of the Diversion Pool are also open for use and the Diversion Pool’s car-top boat launch is open for non-motorized boating.  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


Diversion Pool Trails and Area Roadways to Close for Utility Work

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) crews are scheduled to remove three conductors from the Caribou-Palermo 115KV transmission line that crosses the Thermalito Diversion Pool Sept. 8 through Sept. 16. Boating activity on the Diversion Pool will be restricted by in-water control boats on Sept. 9. Visitors and area residents will also see helicopter activity in the area during conductor removal.


Portions of the Brad Freeman Trail north and south of the Thermalito Diversion Pool, and the Dan Beebe Trail, and areas around the trailhead on Lakeland Boulevard on the south side of the Diversion Pool will also close for various periods Sept. 10 to Sept. 16. Traffic on Lakeland Boulevard west of Reyman Street will experience temporary delays when work is occurring on the conductors crossing the road. Signage regarding upcoming work will be posted on area trails in advance of closures. Visitors are reminded to be safe and obey access restrictions.


Bidwell Canyon Boat Ramp Work to Resume in September

The Bidwell Canyon Boat Ramp Stage Two Improvement Project’s contractor started mobilizing on Sept. 1 and will begin work in the next couple of weeks depending on Lake Oroville elevation. Work will not occur over the Labor Day weekend. 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. 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 Area Algal Blooms Status

DWR’s Oroville Field Division has concluded recreational swim beach cyanotoxin monitoring this week. Monitoring for cyanotoxins at the Thermalito Forebay and Afterbay occurs weekly from Memorial Day to Labor Day. DWR’s Environmental Scientists will continue to assess any reported algal blooms as visitors continue to enjoy these recreation 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 Aug. 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 751 feet and storage is about 1.68 million acre-feet. Daily average inflows to the lake have ranged between 1,354 cfs (cubic feet per second) to 2,442 over the past week. High temperatures will continue into the week of September 7. 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. Currently, 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. Generating additional hydroelectric power to address increased energy demands due to the heat wave may result in increased river flows over the Labor Day weekend.

During the week of September 7, total flows to the Feather River will be reduced from 2,100 cfs to 1,950 cfs to conserve storage.  After this decrease, flows through the City of Oroville will be 800 cfs and 1,150 cfs will be from the Outlet.

All data as of midnight 9/3/2020