Water & Drought

Oroville dam holding steady below flood control stage

Lake Oroville water levels have fallen below 850 feet, the flood control stage that officials normally want to keep the lake below this time of year, state figures show.

In addition, water continues to flow into Lake Oroville at a slower pace than it is flowing out, meaning that lake levels continue to drop, albeit slowly. Lake levels fell about a foot between midnight and 9 a.m. on Monday.

Water was flowing into the lake at roughly 40,000 cubic feet per second at 8 a.m. and flowing out of the lake at roughly 60,000 cubic feet per second.

Conditions on the lake could change, particularly if storms north of the lake are severe. But officials have said repeatedly that they believe they could keep the lake below 901 feet – the level at which water starts to flow over an emergency spillway – this week if lake levels were below 850 feet when a storm hit.

With smatterings of rain falling, crews worked to clear debris from the reservoir’s power plant and continued to haul rock to its damaged emergency spillway.

The reservoir is releasing about 60,000 cubic feet of water per second while it’s receiving about 42,000 cfs. Its level dropped by about three feet overnight, down to 849 feet.

The reservoir’s badly damaged main spillway continues to erode, with most of the water pouring into a chasm adjacent to the concrete path.

Phillip Reese: 916-321-1137, @PhillipHReese