In anticipation of impending winter storms in Northern California, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has initiated increased water releases from Lake Oroville to the Feather River. These actions are aimed at providing crucial flood control protection for downstream communities and are executed in close coordination with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other water operators.
Feather River recreational users are urged to stay vigilant as river flows are expected to become swift and cold, with potential changes based on forthcoming weather forecasts. The following information presents current estimates of reservoir levels. It’s important to note that forecasts can swiftly evolve, potentially impacting the estimates provided:
- Current Oroville Reservoir Level: 842 feet elevation
- Current Storage Capacity: 76 percent
- Total Releases to the Feather River: 6,000 cubic feet per second (cfs)
- Current Releases from the Oroville Main Spillway: None; spillway releases are scheduled to commence on Wednesday, January 31, at 8 a.m.
Lake Oroville reservoir stands as the largest storage facility within the State Water Project, playing a pivotal role in flood protection while supporting environmental and water delivery requirements for over 27 million Californians.
In February of 2017, after a series of storms drenched Butte County, the Oroville Dam spillway capsized under water pressure, forcing the evacuation of 180,000 residents in the Butte County area. Since then, the spillway has gone through a $1 billion reconstruction.
In 2023, the Oroville Dam’s main spillway efficiently handled over 2,370,000 acre-feet of water, equivalent to 67 percent of Lake Oroville’s capacity, with peak flows reaching 36,000 cfs. The main spillway continues to perform reliably and as intended.
DWR maintains a vigilant watch over lake levels, weather forecasts, and mountain snow levels, ensuring optimal water storage while allowing for carryover storage into the following year. These proactive measures are essential to safeguarding both communities and water resources in the region.