Lake Oroville Community Update - November 20, 2020


Construction of Loafer Point Stage II boat ramp project with Bidwell Canyon Marina  in the background.

Construction of Loafer Point Stage II boat ramp project with Bidwell Canyon Marina in the background.

The Lake Oroville Community Update will not be published on Nov. 27 – Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Fire Impacts to Lake Oroville

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) is a member of the “Watershed Working Group” led by the California Governor’s 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 partnership with the National Weather Service informs DWR preparations when precipitation events are forecast. In concert with our partners in the “Watershed Working Group”, DWR is actively monitoring area forecasts and burn scar conditions for potential impacts to Lake Oroville.

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.

Construction of Loafer Point Stage II Boat Ramps

Construction started on the Loafer Point Stage 2 boat ramp project to build six new boat launch lanes and 180 trailered parking spaces, allowing boaters to enter the lake when lake elevations are below 805 feet and providing access to as low as 640 feet. Constructing low water access boat ramp lanes in a reservoir presents unique challenges as water deliveries (decreasing lake levels) and inflows from precipitation (increasing lake levels) both impact construction schedules.

The Loafer Point Stage 2 project will be adjacent to an existing Loafer Creek Recreation Day Use Area and Campground, rounding out a full-service recreation destination with nearby trails, campgrounds, boating, and marina store. Additionally, immediate access to the wide-open waters of Lake Oroville will make Loafer Point a popular boat launching location.

The recently completed Loafer Point Stage 1 boat launch added three new boat launch lanes to 799 feet, a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant parking area, and new restroom facilities. The Loafer Creek Recreation Area remains closed to the public for fire recovery work.

DWR Completes Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment

DWR recently published a summary report of the Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA), which 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) recently held a meeting of the Oroville Dam Citizens Advisory Commission (CAC). The meeting covered the Oroville Dam Safety Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA) and information on winter operations and communications with the public. Public comments were received and discussed. More information can be found on the CAC website. A meeting summary will be posted in the coming weeks.  

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.

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. Recent deliveries of concrete have allowed the construction started in 2018 to expand the parking area and provide two additional boat ramp lanes to Elevation 700 (feet above sea level) to continue. The boat ramps will be open from 5 a.m. Saturdays to midnight Sundays and, over the Thanksgiving weekend, from 5 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 25 to midnight Sunday Nov. 29. 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.

Current Lake Operations

The elevation of Oroville’s reservoir is about 714 feet and storage is about 1.37 million acre-feet. Currently, in the Northern Sierra Basin, rainfall is below average, at 47 percent of normal for this time of year. Dry and continued cool temperatures continue this weekend and into next week with a chance of rain later in the week of Nov. 23.   

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 11/19/2020

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!