Lake Oroville, located in the foothills east of Sacramento Valley, California. It is the second largest lake in the state. It is a major source of drinking water, irrigation, and recreational activities. The lake was created as a result of the construction of the Oroville Dam on the Feather River. The project began in the early 1960s and was completed in 1968. It was part of a larger effort by the California Department of Water Resources to develop the state’s water resources. At 770 feet tall, the Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the United States and was considered an impressive feat of engineering at the time of its construction.
Lake Oroville provides water to millions of people in the state. The lake’s water is also used for agriculture, which is a major industry in the state. In addition, the irrigation water from the lake helps grow crops such as almonds, tomatoes, and cotton, which provide food and jobs for the residents of the state. In addition to its practical uses, the lake is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and tourists. The lake offers a variety of recreational activities, including boating, fishing, hiking, and camping.
$1 Billion Cost
However, Lake Oroville has also been subject to controversy and environmental challenges. In recent years, the lake’s water levels have fluctuated greatly, causing concern for the safety of the Oroville Dam. In February of 2017, a spillway failure at the dam resulted in the evacuation of over 188,000 residents from the surrounding area. Consequently, the dam was rebuilt in a $1 billion project.
Drought and Snowstorm
In the summer of 2021, Lake Oroville was at a mere 22% capacity due to the severe drought,. Its power plant shut down as there was not enough water to generate electricity. The storms in January 2023 were instrumental in filling the lake to its highest level since May 2020. Currently, Lake Oroville is 65% full. This is enough water to meet the annual needs of 7.5 million people. Although experts caution that California still needs more storms to fully end the drought, they may not be necessary. With the Sierra snowpack being 206% of its historical average, storage levels in Lake Oroville are expected to further rise in the coming months.
Interested in learning more about different lakes? Try our other articles.