OROVILLE (CBS13) — Construction on the damaged Oroville Dam spillway is affecting levels at Lake Oroville just before the holiday celebrations.
The Department of Water Resources recently released water from Lake Oroville so spillway repairs could continue. The area was already hit hard during the disaster in February 2017 and now there are concerns that low water levels could impact boating traffic during the area’s busiest time of year.
State officials say their decision had nothing to do with potential economic impacts, but rather public safety.
“It’s beautiful, look at it.”
It’s a tradition for Art Dombrowski to spend his Fourth of July boating on Lake Oroville. But this year, the lake is lower than usual at just above 800 feet. The Department of Water Resources lowered levels just before the holiday.
Levels at the lake peaked at 824 feet in May and has gradually dropped to 803 feet for the holiday.
Erin Mellon with the Department of Water Resources said, “That’s all in an effort to meet our Nov. 1 milestones which are driven by public safety.
Boaters like Joe Amorin are still questioning the state’s timing.
“The feeling is that they don’t give a damn about the water or the boaters,” said Amorin.
Low water levels mean boats can’t even get in the water in some areas. Access is limited at boat launch ramps, as lanes are blocked off.
“I was little skeptical.”
Hayer runs Lakeside Market and Gas and counts on holiday traffic.
“Fourth of July is usually the busiest day we have,” said Hayer.
Hayer says businesses in the area have already dealt with disaster from the dam’s spillway once and can’t afford any more economic loss.
“I think they could have held off a little until after summer.”
Dobrowski said, “If it’s a must and that’s the only way they can work on it, you know I live down below, so you know I want the dam to be safe, too.”
Longer launch lines and lower water levels on Lake Oroville. Folks who rely on business, hope the states effort to fix one problem, won’t cause anymore.
The DWR says ten boat launch lanes are still open for people who want to come out and enjoy the lake. So far, businesses say the traffic is pretty steady.