Oroville Dam is the centerpiece and largest water storage
facility of the State Water Project. Located about 70 miles north
of Sacramento at the Feather River confluence, Oroville Dam
creates a reservoir that can hold 3.5 million acre-feet of water.
Features such as a fish barrier dam and pool at Oroville Dam made
the SWP one of the first major water projects built with
environmental protections as a major consideration.
Besides storing water, the dam also protects downstream residents
from the floodprone Feather River—the main feeder of the SWP— and
provides major water recreation facilities such as boating,
fishing and camping.
Each year, Lake Shasta brings in locals and tourists from all
over, especially for Memorial Day weekend. Businesses on Lake
Shasta are dealing with low lake levels and short staffing but
despite the challenges, they still expect a good holiday
turnout. … With a three-year drought, lake levels are
front-of-mind for many frequent lake visitors, but
there is good news. Lake levels are currently
about 120 feet below full pool and expected to drop 155 feet
later this summer, but that’s still 30 feet higher than we saw
last year. Matt Doyle, general manager of Lake Shasta Caverns,
said businesses around the lake are very hopeful for this
Mark your calendars now for our upcoming fall 2022
tours exploring California’s two largest rivers – the
Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers! On our
California Tour, Oct. 12-14, participants
can learn about key reservoirs and infrastructure that
transports vital water resources statewide.
Our San Joaquin River Restoration Tour
Nov. 2-3 returns this year to tell the
story of bringing back a river’s chinook salmon while
balancing water supply needs. Registration is
Americans wondering whether a nearby dam could be dangerous can
look up the condition and hazard ratings of tens of thousands
of dams nationwide using an online database run by the federal
government. But they won’t find the condition of Hoover Dam,
which impounds one the nation’s largest reservoirs on the
border of Nevada and Arizona. Nor is there any condition listed
for California’s Oroville Dam, the country’s tallest, which
underwent a $1 billion makeover after its spillway failed.
California likely will have an energy shortfall equivalent to
what it takes to power about 1.3 million homes when use is at
its peak during the hot and dry summer months, state officials
said Friday. Threats from drought, extreme heat and wildfires,
plus supply chain and regulatory issues hampering the solar
industry will create challenges for energy reliability this
summer, the officials said. … Large hydropower projects
generated nearly 14% of the state’s electricity in 2020,
according to the independent system operator.
At a point in the year when California’s water storage should
be at its highest, the state’s two largest reservoirs have
already dropped to critically low levels — a sobering outlook
for the hotter and drier months ahead. Shasta Lake, which rises
more than 1,000 feet above sea level when filled to the brim,
is at less than half of where it usually should be in early May
— the driest it has been at this time of year since
record-keeping first began in 1976. Lake Oroville, the largest
reservoir in the State Water Project, a roughly 700-mile
lifeline that pumps and ferries water all the way to Southern
California, is currently at 55% of total capacity.
The historic drought that’s choked off rivers and reservoirs
from the Rocky Mountains to the California coast is
threatening to strain power grids this summer, raising the
specter of blackouts and forcing the region to rely on more
fossil fuels. Many reservoirs that should be brimming with
spring snowmelt show bathtub rings of dry dirt instead,
including the largest one in the U.S., Lake Mead, which fell
this week to a record low. Hydropower dams feeding off those
reservoirs won’t be able to pump out as much electricity as
they should, if they keep operating at all.
During Gov. Gavin Newsom’s visit to Butte County on Tuesday,
Newsom said he will ask the legislature for $750 million to
help with drought conditions. At the Hyatt Powerplant at Lake
Oroville, which shut down last year due to record low lake
levels, Newsom spoke about how the state needs a different
approach to water conservation. Newsom already invested $5.2
billion in the past three years for water security for all
Land and waterway managers labored
hard over the course of a century to control California’s unruly
rivers by building dams and levees to slow and contain their
water. Now, farmers, environmentalists and agencies are undoing
some of that work as part of an accelerating campaign to restore
the state’s major floodplains.
The deadliest and most destructive
wildfire in California history had a severe impact on the water
system in the town of Paradise. Participants on our Oct. 2-4
Tour will hear from Kevin Phillips, general manager of
Paradise Irrigation District, on the scope of the damages, the
obstacles to recovery and the future of the water district.
The Camp Fire destroyed 90 percent of the structures in Paradise,
and 90 percent of the irrigation district’s ratepayer base. The
fire did not destroy the irrigation district’s water storage or
treatment facilities, but it did melt plastic pipes, releasing
contaminants into parts of the system and prompting do-not-drink
advisories to water customers.
This tour explored the Sacramento River and its tributaries
through a scenic landscape as participants learned about the
issues associated with a key source for the state’s water supply.
All together, the river and its tributaries supply 35 percent of
California’s water and feed into two major projects: the State
Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project. Tour
participants got an on-site update of repair efforts on the
Oroville Dam spillway.
In 2017, it is likely that no other water story grabbed as many
headlines in California and across the country as the flood
incident at Oroville Dam, the centerpiece of the State Water Project and
its largest water storage facility.
On our upcoming Northern California
Tour, we will spend time at the Oroville Dam visitor’s
center and meet with California Department of Water Resources
staff. You’ll see drone footage from February’s flood
incident, learn the engineering background on what led to it, and
hear about plans to stabilize the spillway before the next winter
storms and to finalize repairs by 2018.
One of the wettest years in California history that ended a
record five-year drought has rejuvenated the call for new storage
to be built above and below ground.
In a state that depends on large surface water reservoirs to help
store water before moving it hundreds of miles to where it is
used, a wet year after a long drought has some people yearning
for a place to sock away some of those flood flows for when they
California Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird said
Tuesday that the February crisis with the broken spillway at
Oroville Dam offers an “important opportunity” to assess the
safety of the more than 1,400 dams in the state.
“We really want to use the focus on this to look at the issue of
dam safety in California,” he said during a hearing of the Senate
Natural Resources and Water Committee. “We have the best
inspection program of the 50 states but it is clear we can do
Work crews repairing Oroville Dam’s damaged emergency spillway
are dumping 1,200 tons of rock each hour and using shotcrete to
stabilize the hillside slope, an official with the Department of
Water Resources told the California Water Commission today.
The pace of work is “round the clock,” said Kasey Schimke,
assistant director of DWR’s legislative affairs office.
This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership
with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an
excellent overview of climate change and how it is already
affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists
anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and
precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are
underway to plan and adapt to climate.
Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch
poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural
hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants,
rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation.
Excellent for elementary school classroom use.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an
excellent overview of the history of water development and use in
California. It includes sections on flood management; the state,
federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water
rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for
stretching the water supply such as water marketing and
conjunctive use. New in this 10th edition of the guide is a
section on the human need for water.
A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect
gift for the water wonk in your life.
Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the
definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the
state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s
natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts
– including federally, state and locally funded
projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and
natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of
California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects,
wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the
text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water
projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado
Oroville Dam is the centerpiece of
the State Water
Project (SWP) and its largest water storage facility.
Located about 70 miles north of Sacramento at the confluence of
the three forks of the Feather River, Oroville Dam is an
earthfill dam (consisting of an impervious core surrounded by
sands, gravels and rockfill materials) that creates a
reservoir that can hold 3.5 million acre-feet of water.
This printed copy of Western Water examines California’s drought
– its impact on water users in the urban and agricultural sector
and the steps being taken to prepare for another dry year should