Lake Oroville going dry, but why?

Once full was the Oroville Lake.

Now empty. How much does it take?

No pumped power galore

for the windmills to store.

Blame Climate change, not your mistake.

In 2016 then Governor Jerry Brown declared that California was in a permanent state of drought, so they might as well atart to prepare for water rationing.

The Lake Oroville Dam had a large crack in its spillway, and it was part of the regular maintenance to fix it, but since they were in a permanent drought the lake would never again be full, so there was no need, and certainly no hurry to fix it. Then in 1917 it started to rain again, the lake started to overflow, and instead of a less than 20 million maintenance task it became an over 1 Billion dollar rescue effort with helicopters trying to dump stones in the eroded parts of the dam

That was in early 2017. then in early 2019 it was full again, and with proper conservation measures there was enough water for 5 to 7 years with normal rainfalls from then on, so not to worry. Look where the lake levels are now:

Lake Oroville water level 8 8 639.67 feet

power. But that is not allSince today’s level is below the intake for hydro-power there will be no power from Oroville dam until spring melting season, thus depraving California about 440 MW of power. But that is not all, it also eliminates Oroville Dam of 117 MW power as a Hydro-power storage “battery” for excess wind power, so more wind turbines will have to be shut off when the wind is blowing since there are no customers for excess power. On the other hand, when the wind is not blowing it will have to be replaced by coal or natural gas, which are in insufficient supply. The future is full of brownouts, and rotating blackouts.

This is how the Oroville Lake looks now:

What is most galling is that of the water released in March of this year, before farmers really started to use water, 91% of the released water went into the San Francisco Bay to save the Delta Smelt, a totally useless fish, but protected. For the moment I can not think of a more inept way to run a water and energy business.

Published by


Retired engineer, graduated from Chalmers Technical University a long time ago with a degree in Technical Physics. Career in Aerospace, Analytical Chemistry, computer chip manufacturing and finally adjunct faculty at Pennsylvania State University, taught just one course in Computer Engineering, the Capstone Course.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.