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Lake Oroville Within 18 Feet of Crest

With Lake Oroville at its highest level in nearly four years, state officials were cautiously optimistic that the reservoir will reach the crest this year.

The lake was less than 18 feet from the crest of 900 feet above sea level, as of 5 p.m. Friday. The last time the lake was this high was June 28, 2012. That year marked the last time Lake Oroville came within 13 inches of the crest as California’s current multi-year drought was just beginning.

OPINION: Drought Proposals in Congress are so Last Century

Drought has been called a slow-moving natural disaster – unlike flood, fire and earthquake. Perhaps the only thing that moves slower is federal law and policy. Even so, with the California drought now in its fifth year, it must be asked: Where are the innovations in federal law that might have helped?

Politicians in Washington could have passed laws four years ago that would be yielding benefits today. These would be things like assistance with groundwater recharge, water conservation on farms, stormwater capture and wastewater recycling.

OPINION: Is the California Drought America’s Water Wake-Up Call?

The California drought is not over. The great hope for major replenishment of California’s surface and groundwater supplies — the “Godzilla” El Niño — has failed thus far to live up to its super-sized hype, delivering only average amounts of rain and snow, primarily to the northern half of the state.

Average, however, is welcome. Average means that snowpack is visible atop the Sierra, water levels are rising in many reservoirs and a drought-fatigued public is getting a little emotional relief after enduring one “hottest-ever, driest ever” winter after another.

Delta Pumping to Southern California Restricted Despite Rainy Winter

For the first time in five years, Northern California’s rivers are roaring and its reservoirs are filled almost to the brim.

But you’d hardly know it, based on how quiet it’s been at the two giant pumping stations at the south end of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The pumps deliver Sacramento Valley water to 19 million Southern Californians and millions of acres of farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.