Special Drought Operations of Oroville Reservoir

by Kenneth Henkel, California State Univ, Chico, Div of, Engineering, Chico, CA, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water for Resource Development


Special operations of Oroville Reservoir during the 1976-77 California drought resulted in good spawning conditions in the Feather River for migrating king salmon. Special cold water releases from Oroville Reservoir were made in the fall of 1977 to establish a maximum temperature of 57 degree F (14 degree C) in portions of the Feather River. However, as a result of the special operations, about 52,000 was lost in potential hydroelectric power generation revenues. This loss was offset by a record 28,700,000 steelhead and salmon eggs which were collected at the Feather River Fish Hatchery. An additional measure of success for the special operations was seen in 1981 when an estimated 53,200 king salmon returned to spawn in the Feather River. These four year old fish were offspring of salmon that had spawned during the drought. It is estimated that for every dollar lost in hydroelectric power generation, over one hundred dollars was returned in the salmon fishing industry.

Subject Headings: Rivers and streams | Droughts | Reservoirs | Hydro power | Power plants | Water resources | Fish management | Temperature effects | California | United States

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