DWR puts plans in place for use of main spillway as Lake Oroville levels continue to rise

    An aerial overview of the recently completed Lake Oroville main spillway during Phase 2 of the recovery efforts. Work continues on the concrete cap below the Lake Oroville emergency spillway weir at the Butte County, California site. Photo taken January 24, 2019.Kelly M. Grow / California Department of Water Resources, FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY

    As Lake Oroville's water levels continue to rise, the Department of Water Resources is preparing in the event that the newly constructed main spillway needs to be used.

    At this time, DWR does not anticipate using the main spillway will be necessary in the near future but as they continue to monitor the lake levels, they want to ensure plans are in place.

    Lake Oroville's elevation as of Thursday, February 21 was 773 feet. At this elevation, the lake is a little over 40 feet below the entrance to the main spillway.

    Based on current 10-day projections, reservoir levels could reach an elevation of 780-785 feet by the end of the month.

    At elevation 780, DWR, and its construction contractor Kiewit, will take steps to remove equipment from the main spillway.

    To prepare for rising lake levels, DWR will also plan to shut and seal the gates before the lake reaches an elevation of 805 feet.

    Once water reaches the gates at 813 feet, the lowest elevation at which the spillways can be used, it will not necessarily be activated.

    Releases are based on available flood storage, environmental needs, and water deliveries.

    DWR says if they need to use the main spillway for flood control releases at any point during the season, it will follow the 2018/2019 Lake Oroville Flood Operations Plan.

    Officials said as of November 1, 2018, the Oroville main spillway is fully reconstructed and is capable to handling flood control releases.

    DWR added the recent precipitation and forecasted reservoir inflows mean Lake Oroville is likely to reach average levels for this time of year.

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