When the California Department of Water Resources opened the gates of the Oroville Dam spillway on Tuesday, they eased the water out of the dam to ensure the newly-constructed spillway could handle the pressure.
The DWR has released dramatic drone footage of that release:
The initial release of water onto the $1 billion spillway was so successful, officials have increased water flows to 25,000 cubic feet per second:
The increase is no surprise as warm rain continues to fall on Northern California, increasing water storage and melting snow in the mountains. The current flow of 25,000 is actually quite low for the spillway, which is built to handle flows up to 150,000 CFS.
DWR may increase flows to the Feather River again later this week to between 40,000 and 60,000 cfs to prepare for forecasted inflows. DWR also anticipates potential further releases to manage snowmelt and lake elevations later this spring.
Oro Dam Blvd. East will be open to pedestrian and vehicle traffic unless flows exceed 30,000 cfs. If spillway flows exceed 30,000 cfs, the road will be closed to ensure public safety. Credentialed media will be provided access past the roadblocks located at Glen Drive and Canyon Drive and can use turnouts along Oro Dam Blvd. East.
The last time the Oroville Dam spillway was used was in February of 2017. During the disastrous water incident, the spillway capsized forcing the evacuations of 180,000 residents in the Butte County area. Since then, the spillway has gone through a $1 billion reconstruction.