The Lake Oroville Spillway Could be Used this Week

The Lake Oroville spillway collapsed when it was used in 2017, forcing the evacuation of 180,000 people.

With an atmospheric set to blast California with yet more rain and snow, water flows have become a concern in portions of Northern California. With water levels rising fast, California officials are anticipating the use of the Oroville Dam spillway this week.

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has increased outflows from Lake Oroville into the Feather River, but it may not alleviate the issue of overflow at the lake. With that concern, DWR officials are prepared to use the lake’s spillway, which has had a controversial history.

In February of 2017, the spillway capsized under water pressure, forcing the evacuations of 180,000 residents in the Butte County area. Since then, the spillway has gone through a $1 billion reconstruction. The first and only time the brand-new Oroville Dam spillway was used was on April 2, 2019:

Here’s the full statement from the DWR:

Since Dec. 1 Lake Oroville’s storage has increased approximately 179 feet and gained 1.68 million acre-feet of water. DWR continues to closely monitor lake levels, weather forecasts and mountain snow levels. In anticipation of increased runoff inflows into Lake Oroville, DWR will increase outflows to the Feather River through the Hyatt Powerplant to 3,500 cfs by 5 p.m. today. The main spillway at Lake Oroville may be used as early as Friday for additional water releases.

A full reservoir is a welcome sight after years of drought and low levels to accommodate reconstruction. A full reservoir provides optimal recreation opportunities and serves as a vital water bank account to help California cope with future drought conditions. Let’s hope there are no issues using the spillway this time around.

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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