Mandatory Evacuations Lifted as Lake Level Drops at Oroville

The Butte County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday lifted mandatory evacuation orders for more than 180,000 people as the California Department of Water Resources continued to stabilize the spillway emergency at Oroville Dam.

Sheriff Kory Honea said residents could return home but would remain under an evacuation warning, noting that though the immediate threat has ended the potential for an emergency still exists and residents should be prepared to move again if the situation changes.

DWR Acting Director Bill Croyle told reporters that the department is mainaining releases of 100,000 cubic-feet per second through the facility's primary spillway, which he said has been stable for four days.

Lake levels continue to drop, reducing the risk of further damage to the emergency spillway that triggered the need for evacuations on Sunday.

Croyle said crews are monitoring the primary spillway 24/7 and are moving aggressively to address the erosion concern on the emergency spillway. He said crews were using helicopters to shore up the erosion site with 30 tons of rock per hour. He predicted that repair activity would continue for the next several months.

The next series of storms is expected to be smaller than last week's heavy rain, with inflows into the reservoir predicted to be less than the flows currently being released through the primary spillway.

The lake level was at 887 feet at noon Tuesday.