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Oroville Dam's new spillway may be tested soon

Recent rain and snowmelt is adding water to Lake Oroville and officials will soon decide if they will use the new spillway.

OROVILLE, Calif. — Lake Oroville has been filling up this entire rain season, adding more than one million acre-feet since the beginning of October.

Because of this, we might get to see the new Oroville Dam spillway in action

As of Thursday, March 28, 2019, the lake is 78% full and 103% of average levels. The more important numbers though are related to the spillway.

The base of the spillway gates are at 813 feet and as of Thursday morning, the lake levels is above 848 feet. This matters because 848 feet is the highest lake level goal for Lake Oroville at the end of March, according to officials.

Next week, the Feather River Basin that feeds Lake Oroville is going to get 8-10 inches of rain over 10 days, according to forecasts. This is not uncommon for this watershed, but we are so close to benchmarks and decisions that this amount of rain and runoff may trigger action.

The California Department of Water Resources is now taking steps to use the brand new, never tested, spillway next week. The price tag for emergency response to the initial 2017 damage to spillway along with construction of a new spillway and emergency spillway has topped $1 billion. 

They are removing equipment, taking out constructions roads, and putting up cameras to monitor future use. 

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