Lake Oroville Update - June 7, 2024


An aerial view shows high water conditions at Oroville Dam located at Lake Oroville in Butte County, California.

An aerial view shows high water conditions at Oroville Dam located at Lake Oroville in Butte County, California.

Lake Oroville Remains Full

With temperatures reaching triple digits this week, Lake Oroville continues to remain at full capacity, offering ample water recreation and cooling opportunities for visitors. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is adjusting water releases from the reservoir as needed to account for increasing or decreasing inflows while maintaining flood protection for downstream communities. Releases are closely coordinated with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other water operators and adjusted as needed to maintain balance throughout the water system. DWR continues to monitor Lake Oroville levels to optimize water storage while meeting environmental requirements and allowing for carryover storage into next year.  


With Lake Oroville at full capacity, windy periods are likely to cause water to splash onto and over the crest of the emergency spillway. This will result in minor surface wetting of the downstream side of the emergency spillway crest and the very upper sections of the splash pad. Visitors to Oroville Dam may also notice minor amounts of water flowing from drains built into the emergency spillway. Both conditions are normal and expected given the emergency spillway design. The dam and emergency spillway continue to operate as intended.


The information below reflects current reservoir level estimates. Forecasts can change quickly and may affect the estimates provided.


  • Current Oroville Reservoir Level: 899 feet elevation
  • Current Storage Capacity: 100 percent
  • Total Releases to the Feather River: 3,800 cubic feet per second (cfs)


Total releases to the Feather River amount to 3,800 cfs with 850 cfs being routed down the Low Flow Channel through the City of Oroville. An additional 2,950 cfs is being released from the Thermalito Afterbay River Outlet, located 5 miles downstream from Oroville. DWR continues to assess Feather River releases daily.


As the largest storage facility in the State Water Project, Lake Oroville helps provide water to 27 million Californians and 750,000 acres of farmland, while providing flood protection to downstream communities along with environmental and recreation benefits. Spring is an important time for water project operators to fill reservoirs like Lake Oroville ahead of dry months. It also is an important migration window for many native fish species. DWR is using the best available science to protect fish species. However, SWP operations have faced significant restrictions in the Delta this year that have impacted the ability in other areas of the state to capture and store the water needed if California sees a return to drought conditions.


Explore the Lime Saddle Recreation Area

Just a short drive from the town of Paradise, the Lime Saddle Recreation Area is located along the western shoreline of the North Fork arm of Lake Oroville and accessible from Pentz Road. The boat ramp and day use area features picnic tables, sun shelters, ADA accessible flush toilets, a fish cleaning station, and trash receptacles. A five-lane boat ramp provides access to Lake Oroville with two lanes extending down to 702 feet for lower water access. At the top of the boat ramp, a parking lot provides ample vehicle and trailer parking with ADA designated spots. In addition, the Lime Saddle Marina offers supplies, gas for boats, and boat rentals so you can enjoy a day on the lake.


Nearby campgrounds also offer close access to the lake and are perfect for quick dips to combat the scorching heat. Lime Saddle Campground features 50 total campsites – 44 individual (28 car/tent sites and 16 RV sites with full hookups) and six group campsites. Each campsite features a picnic table and fire ring with grill. Bathroom facilities offer flush toilets and showers for visitors. Further north, the Lime Saddle Group Campground features six group campsites with shade structures, multiple picnic tables, trash receptacles, a large barbecue, and a water fountain with spigot. Three of the group campsites at this facility are ADA accessible with the central restroom/shower building also offering ADA accommodation.


With Lake Oroville at full capacity, it’s also the perfect time for a hiking or biking trip along the Lime Saddle Trail offering scenic views of the full reservoir. The 1.73-mile trail is accessible from Lime Saddle Recreation Road (marina access road) and routes visitors north before ending at the Lime Saddle Group Campground.

DWR, the California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) maintain over 92 miles of trails in the Oroville area. An interactive map of recreation facilities, including open trails and their permitted uses (hike, bike, horse, multi), is available on DWR’s Lake Oroville Recreation webpage. A paper trail map is available at various locations, including most entrance kiosks and the Lake Oroville Visitor Center.


Prescribed Burn Complete at the Afterbay

DWR, CAL FIRE/Butte County Fire Department, and CDFW completed a 100-acre prescribed burn along South Wilbur Road near the Afterbay on June 6. The burn is part of DWR’s Thermalito Vegetation Management Project, which was established in 2021 to improve valley grassland and vernal pool habitat.


Invasive annual grasses and other invasive species like the yellow starthistle degrade native grasslands and fire is a valuable tool to combat this degradation. Because invasive species have abundant seeds and dry material called thatch that build up on the soil, it is important to burn the same area multiple years in a row. When completed during the right stage in these species' growth cycle, the prescribed burns eradicate the current crop, reduce the dry residual thatch, and decrease the spread of seeds. The area has seen a significant decline in the volume of invasive grasses and starthistles since the project began. The burns also allow DWR to continue post-fire studies on vernal pool habitat.


Further prescribed burns around the Forebay and Afterbay are also planned for June 20 and June 21. Burn activities are dependent on favorable weather conditions with the schedule subject to change.

The upcoming burns also have the added benefit of reducing dry brush near the Thermalito Forebay in preparation for the City of Oroville’s Fourth of July fireworks showcase. Smoke from prescribed burning activities will be highly visible in the Oroville area in the coming weeks.


Oroville Recreation

Lake Oroville is one of the State Water Project’s premier recreational destinations and one of California’s best fishing spots. The lake provides both warm-water and cold-water fisheries and is a popular destination for bass tournaments. Below the Oroville Dam, the Thermalito Afterbay and the Feather River offer additional excellent fishing opportunities. The marinas at Bidwell Canyon and Lime Saddle are open daily and provide a variety of services including a convenience store, gas, and boat rentals.


Upstream migrating fish totals through the Feather River Fish Monitoring Station between January 1 and June 4 are:  

  • Spring-run Chinook salmon: 5,029
  • Fall-run Chinook salmon: 42
  • Steelhead: 857
  • Due to higher flows in the low-flow channel of the Feather River between February 26 and March 18, some fish swam over the monitoring station and were not counted in upstream migration totals.


Current Lake Operations

Lake Oroville is at 899 feet elevation and storage is approximately 3.53 million acre-feet (MAF), which is 100 percent of its total capacity and 127 percent of the historical average.


Feather River flows are at 850 cfs through the City of Oroville with 2,950 cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay River Outlet (Outlet) for a total Feather River release of 3,800 cfs downstream. DWR continues to assess Feather River releases 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 6/6/2024.




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