OROVILLE (KCBS) – Despite needing tens of millions of dollars in repair, the Oroville Spillway is being called back into action after snowmelt and predicted rains have water officials keeping a wary eye on lake levels.
State water officials opened the spillway late Friday morning, which is expected to stay open for about a week.
This was the first time the gates were opened since Feb 27th, when crews got in to clear out 1.25 million cubic yards of debris from the bottom of the spillway. There is still a half million cubic yards left, but rising lake levels are forcing water officials’ hands.
Lake Oroville is currently at 864 feet, up a foot in the last 24 hours. Bill Croyle, acting director of the Department of Water Resources isn’t waiting.
“I need to get some water out of this reservoir, so a long as we don’t see a catastrophic loss of a lot of concrete, then we’re going to need to roll through this,” Croyle said in a Friday morning news conference.
“We need to use this spillway at least one more time and maybe two more times,” Croyle went on to say. “If we see a lot of trouble, that’s why we have our monitoring teams, then we can adjust on the fly.”
Crews have caulked all the cracks and re-bolted the spillway to bedrock but the permanent fixes will have to come after rainy season.
Meanwhile, boaters on the Feather River are being warned that water levels will go up 10-15 feet because of the release.