OROVILLE — Workers could be seen Friday walking and driving along the mostly dry main spillway of the Oroville Dam conducting concrete work.
The California Department of Water Resources, which oversees the dam as well as Lake Oroville, announced Friday that the work consists of joint sealant repair work as well as laying concrete. While this work has been ongoing, the timeframe of the project has been extended until Dec. 1.
According to the update by DWR, the spillway has been up to par throughout 2023 with considerable outflows as a response to heavy storms and the highest lake level in years, reaching capacity in spring. In total, the spillway passed 2.37 million acre-feet of water which is 67% of Lake Oroville’s capacity.
“Work so far has included concrete repair, approximately 1,700 feet of concrete slab and wall joint sealant replacement, and inspection of the 51,000 feet of piping that support the spillway’s improved drainage system,” the announcement stated.
Because of the work being done on the spillway, no water is currently being released from the lake. DWR spokeswoman Raquel Borrayo said releases are at their minimum for the sake of conservation.
“Feather River releases are currently at 650 cubic feet per second through the city of Oroville with 1,100 cfs being released from the Thermalito Afterbay river outlet for a total Feather River release of 1,750 cfs downstream,” Borrayo said. “DWR continues to assess releases to the Feather River daily.”
In September, DWR started the process of preparing for the winter months by adjusting the levels of its reservoirs. This is done based on the Water Control Manual provided by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Borrayo said.
“This is done each year in preparation for the winter season to provide flood control protection to downstream communities and obtain additional space in the lake for increased storm runoff,” Borrayo said. “Although DWR is currently releasing minimum flows needed to the Feather River, should wet weather arrive, releases will be adjusted in coordination with (U.S.) to manage reservoir levels. Additionally, DWR’s Water Operations division monitors forecasts closely to predict incoming storm impacts and determine whether to release additional water to account for higher estimated inflows.”
Lake Oroville currently sits at an elevation of 813.44 feet.
While the lake is in better shape than it has been in recent years, the water level has prompted DWR to close some of its boat launches.
Borrayo said this includes the Enterprise, Nelson Bar and Stringtown ramps.
Additionally, DWR closed both the Thermalito Afterbay and Monument Hill boat ramps on Monday for repairs.
“Trailered boat launch access to the Afterbay will still be available at the Wilbur Road boat ramp, while access for car top boaters is available at the Larkin Road ramp,” Borrayo said.
The Lake Oroville Visitor Center remains open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day.
Saturday saw some stormy weather throughout Butte County with some scattered showers and wind gusts, which lasted through Sunday after the rain dried up.
Meteorologist Sara Purdue with the National Weather Service’s Sacramento Office said Oroville likely got the most rain at 0.7 inches followed by Chico at about three-fifths of an inch.
Paradise received roughly 0.27 inches based on reported numbers.
In Tehama County, Red Bluff saw about just over half an inch at 0.54 inches. Corning had slightly more rain at 0.61 inches.