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Oroville Dam


Oroville Dam Spill Way photo

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Lake Oroville was born Nov. 14, 1967, when the second of two diversion tunnels that had carried the Feather River beneath the embankment during construction was blocked.

Oroville Dam is the tallest and one of the largest earthen dams in the United States. The dam, completed in 1968, stands 770 feet high with a crest (top of the dam) 6,920 feet long. Over 80 million cubic yards of material were needed to build the Oroville Dam. There is enough material to build a two-lane highway around the earth in the Dam.

The dam's inner core is a thin layer made of clay material which resists seepage. Gold dredged tailings (sand & gravel left from the early 20th century gold dredging along the Feather River) make up the remainder of Oroville Dam.

Beneath the dam a giant cavern almost as large as the State Capitol Building has been hollowed out to house six power generation units. Coupled with four additional units in the Thermalito Power plant, they will generate more than 2.8 billion kilowatt-hours of power annually.

Other facilities in the State Water Project are the Thermalito Forebay and Afterbay, holding reservoirs located downstream that enable utilization of a "pump-back" procedure whereby water released from Lake Oroville to generate power during "peak need" periods, will be pumped back into the lake during off-peak periods for recalculation through the powerplants.

Surface Area (maximum) 24 sq. miles
Capacity 31/2 million acre-feet
Shoreline (maximum) 167 miles
Depth (maximum) 690 feet
Length (maximum) 21 miles

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