Against the backdrop of the water crisis in the Colorado River Basin, where the country’s largest reservoirs are plunging at an alarming rate, California’s two largest reservoirs — Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville — are facing a similar struggle.
Years of low rainfall and snowpack and more intense heat waves have fed directly to the state’s multiyear, unrelenting drought conditions, rapidly draining statewide reservoirs. And according to this week’s report from the US Drought Monitor, the two major reservoirs are at “critically low levels” at the point of the year when they should be the highest.
This week, Shasta Lake is only at 40% of its total capacity, the lowest it has ever been at the start of May since record-keeping began in 1977. Meanwhile, further south, Lake Oroville is at 55% of its capacity, which is 70% of where it should be around this time on average.
Shasta Lake is the largest reservoir in the state and the cornerstone of California’s Central Valley Project, a complex water system made of 19 dams and reservoirs as well as more than 500 miles of canals, stretching from Redding to the north, all the way south to the drought-stricken landscapes of Bakersfield.
Shasta Lake’s water levels are now less than half of historical average. According to the US Bureau of Reclamation, only agriculture customers who are senior water right holders and some irrigation districts in the Eastern San Joaquin Valley will receive the Central Valley Project water deliveries this year.
“We anticipate that in the Sacramento Valley alone, over 350,000 acres of farmland will be fallowed,” Mary Lee Knecht, public affairs officer for the Bureau’s California-Great Basin Region, told CNN. For perspective, it’s an area larger than Los Angeles. “Cities and towns that receive [Central Valley Project] water supply, including Silicon Valley communities, have been reduced to health and safety needs only.”
See the pics, videos, and the rest is here: https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/07/us/california-water-shasta-oroville-climate/index.html