Oroville Dam Update From Assemblyman James Gallagher


I’ve received many questions in the past couple of weeks regarding Oroville Dam and wanted to share with you the most recent information available to me and the public.

On Friday of last week, DWR announced that the Department is preparing for the potential use of Oroville’s main spillway this week. DWR says that once the decision is made on whether to use the spillway or not, they will provide regular updates to the public and the media. I will be sure to share this information on Facebook and other channels.

On May 30th, a report from the Board of Consultants was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In their summary, the board concluded that the recent use of the spillway "showed that the efforts of the past two years have been successful."

Also, I posed a number of questions to DWR last week. Here are the responses from DWR:

  • The current outflow ability of Hyatt Powerplant is 13,000 CFS.
  • The current elevation of the lake is 894.65 ft.
  • There is currently 82,000 acre-feet of flood space in the reservoir.
  • The current inflow into the lake is 10,901 CFS.
  • Inflows have been tracking at about 9,000 – 12,000 CFS.
  • Estimated daily average inflows over the next 7-10 days are between 10,000-12,000 CFS.
  • Operations will maintain the lake around the current elevation (894-895 feet) over the next week. 
  • Lake elevation may increase through June, but will not exceed 899 feet. 
  • Releases will be subject to inflows, water demands and Delta needs.

I understand the distrust of DWR and the concern regarding lake levels. Know that we are continuing to bring a skeptical and protective eye to all of our meetings.

I believe the water management system at Oroville can and should be changed.  This is what Butte County is also requesting.  I have and will continue to push for what is called “forecast based operations,” meaning that the water should be managed to better account for changes in our watershed and what we are seeing in real time with snowpack and potential storms. 

In the winter months, this would allow for releasing water earlier to provide a better buffer in the reservoir to protect from a warm storm and large inflows like we experienced in 1986 and 1997.  I am also pushing for further investments in infrastructure to ensure the highest level of safety at the Dam.  

As always, I will remain engaged on this important issue and keep you informed.

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