OROVILLE — The California Department of Water Resources is set to begin phase one of its plan to replace the hoists on the Oroville Dam spillway sometime between May and October.
Project Manager Zerguy Maazouddi, who works under DWR’s Division of Operations and Maintenance, said the first phase of prerequisites such as site surveys and approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“The (Flood Control Outlet) Hoist Refurbishment project is being completed in phases,” Maazouddi said. “Phase I activities included: site surveys, approval to proceed with the project from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and working with a contractor to temporarily remove hoist number eight and transport to their facility for fabrication of new hoist systems. Phase I is complete.”
The idea behind the project is that during the winter times when the lake level is higher, a new hoist is created. During the later parts of the year, the hoist will be installed. This will last for eight cycles.
“Phase two will include installing a newly fabricated spare hoist in hoist number eight, which will be removed for full maintenance repairs,” Maazouddi said. “This is expected to occur this year, but work is only permitted between May and October, or when the lake elevation drops to or below 800 feet. During wet years, lake levels may not drop until around July to permit this work to proceed. DWR expects to replace one hoist per year starting in 2023 with eight hoists total.”
The $5 million project was announced in 2022 and was made in response to concerns over the spillway’s condition after the incident in 2017 when the structure cracked, leading to mass evacuations throughout Oroville.
The current hoists that lift the gate on the spillway are nearly 60 years old.
“These hoists were designed and installed during the 1960s and are essential for the proper function of the spillway,” Maazouddi said. “The maintenance repair process is very extensive and includes disassembling the hoist system, replacing integral components, and inspecting the hoist support frame to ensure structural integrity and continued operation for another 30 years.”
So far the project has gone forward as planned with no delays, Maazouddi said.
Access road closure
DWR announced Friday that it would be closing the lakeside access road.
The road was built for times when the lake level was particularly low, however, the recent storms have added more than 100 feet to Lake Oroville’s water level.
Boat launches at Bidwell Canyon, Loafer Point and Lime Saddle are now open 24 hours a day. Additionally, the Spillway boat launch and its day-use area will be open every day from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.
According to a statement by DWR, crews are out on the lake looking for debris.
“In addition, DWR Oroville Field Division Civil Maintenance crews are patrolling Lake Oroville daily to collect woody debris as part of normal operations during this time of year,” the statement reads. “Boaters are advised to be alert for floating debris, which is expected during high reservoir inflows.”