Lake Oroville Community Update - November 10, 2022


With visibly low water conditions in this aerial photograph taken via drone of the Bidwell Bar Bridge at Lake Oroville in Butte County is seen on a day when storage was  1,218,591 AF (Acre Feet) or 34% of total capacity  Photo taken October 5, 2022.

View of the Bidwell Bar Bridge at Lake Oroville taken October 5, 2022.

Water Quality Monitoring Underway

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) recently installed water quality monitoring devices called sondes in Lake Oroville and the Thermalito Diversion Pool. Sondes measure the water’s temperature, pH (acidic or basic level of hydrogen), dissolved oxygen (oxygen levels available to aquatic organisms), and turbidity (the clarity of water). Sonde data is collected around the clock every 15 minutes and is analyzed by the Water Quality Section of DWR’s Northern Region office. The monitoring devices are expected to remain in place until the runoff season ends, which is typically around May or June.


Routine water quality monitoring occurs on a monthly basis in Lake Oroville including three locations in the forks of the Feather River added to monitor runoff from burn scar areas in the Feather River watershed. In 2020, the multi-agency “Watershed Working Group”, led by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), implemented targeted monitoring of rivers, lakes, and other surface waters in the North Complex and Dixie fire burn areas and downstream. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and DWR collect and test water samples for analysis.


State Water Project Capability Report

DWR released the State Water Project Delivery Capability Report 2021, which is generated every two years for the State Water Project’s (SWP) 29 water agencies for water supply planning.


With California entering a possible fourth dry year, the report will help water managers better understand how key factors like climate change and regulatory and operational considerations affect the operation of the SWP under historical and future scenarios. The report includes estimates on the SWP’s water delivery capability for current and future conditions based on three major factors:

  • The effects of population growth on California’s balance of water supply and demand
  • State legislation intended to help maintain a reliable water supply
  • Impact of potential climate change-driven shifts in hydrologic conditions.


As California experiences a rapidly changing climate, the next report in 2023 will expand on the potential impacts of a shift to a hotter, drier future. This new modeling will be critical to helping SWP water suppliers prepare for ongoing impacts to our water supply from climate change. The report is available on DWR’s Library Modeling and Analysis webpage.


DWR Offers Grant Programs

DWR is accepting applications for $510 million in financial assistance to support water supply reliability, yard transformation, and migratory birds as California continues to be impacted by climate change and several years of drought conditions.


“California is moving aggressively to transform the way we use and manage water so we can thrive in a hotter, drier future,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Newsom and the State Legislature, we are deploying much-needed funding to support communities, farmers, and wildlife as we stretch existing supplies and build climate resilience.”


The different grant programs target communities that rely on groundwater, farmers willing to support water conservation in the Delta and aid migratory birds, and an Urban Community Drought Relief Grant Program to help large organizations, water agencies, and communities build resilience, replace thirsty lawns with California native landscaping, and promote water conservation. Information on who is eligible and how to apply before respective deadlines is available on DWR’s News Releases webpage.


Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee

The Oroville Recreation Advisory Committee met Friday, Nov. 4 at the Southside Community Center in Oroville. ORAC was established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to review and provide recommendations regarding DWR’s recreation plan for the Project No. 2100 – Oroville Facilities. The 13-member committee is made up of representatives from state and local government, sports and recreation groups, and business and community organizations. To obtain a summary of the meeting, send a request to


Oroville Recreation

The Lake Oroville Visitors Center is open Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers visitors 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 of Lake Oroville, the valley, the foothills and Sierra Nevada, and the Sutter Buttes, known as the smallest mountain range in the world.


DWR and State Parks maintain over 92 miles of trails in the Oroville area, including those around the Lake Oroville Visitor Center. There are paved, accessible trails with only slight elevation changes by the Visitor Center and the North Forebay Day Use Area. Other trails, such as the Brad Freeman Trail between the Spillway Day Use Area and the Diversion Pool, 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 trough, and hitching posts, and easy access to trails designated for hikers and horses.


Trails and their permitted uses (hike, bike, horse, multi), day use areas, boat ramps, and other recreation facilities are featured on DWR’s interactive map on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage at


The Bidwell Canyon Stage III boat ramp remains open for boating and for fishing enthusiasts who are finding success at Lake Oroville. The Feather River Fish Hatchery continues to perform spawning, rearing, and stocking activities and is open daily 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Fish Barrier Dam Overlook area and underwater viewing window is open sunrise to sunset.


Current Lake Operations

Oroville’s reservoir is about 671 feet elevation and storage is about 1.05 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 30 percent of its total capacity and 59 percent of the historical average. Temperatures are forecasted in the upper-50s to low-to-mid-60s over the weekend and into next week.


The Feather River releases are currently at 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and continues to meet downstream Delta water quality and outflow needs. Flows through the City of Oroville are 650 cfs with 1,350 cfs released from the Thermalito Afterbay Outlet (Outlet) for a total of 2,000 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 at The Lake Oroville gage station is identified as “ORO”.