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Critically Low Water Levels at Lake Shasta, California’s Largest Reservoir

KTVU is continuing its week-long series of stories about the drought with a look at the dire situation at California’s largest reservoir.

Lake Shasta provides water not only to agriculture in the Central Valley, but also to several regional Bay Area water systems. Lake Shasta is located 10 miles from Redding, in Shasta County, and about 200 miles north of the Bay Area.

Northern California Tops Southland in Water Conservation as Savings Improve Statewide

New data suggest Californians are steadily reducing water usage in the face of severe drought, although cities and towns in the northern part of the state are cutting back more than those in the thirsty and more heavily populated south.

Water use in cities and towns across the state decreased 7.6% in June when compared with the same month in 2020 — significantly short of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s voluntary 15% goal last year, but a significant shift compared with the previous month, according to data released by the State Water Resources Control Board. In May, statewide savings were just 3.1%.

California’s Drought Is Dire. But There’s a Surprising Bright Spot That May Make This Year Better Than Last

The outlook for California’s drought is grim.

The first five months of the year have been the driest on record. Snowpack in the mountains, at its usual April 1 peak, was the smallest it’s been in seven years. Reservoirs are hovering near historic lows for the season, including Lake Shasta, the state’s largest.

Worries Over This Summer’s Water Supply Prompt a Request to Temporarily Change How Much is Sent to the Delta

California’s reservoir system serves many important functions. Reservoirs allow for water storage throughout the summer and provide recreational space. Releases from reservoirs also help to keep drinking water free of salt and other contaminants. Water is also regularly released into the Delta to help maintain the stability of the region’s ecosystem

But with 2022 off to a record dry start, water managers are concerned that there won’t be enough water in reservoirs to keep meeting all of those needs through the summer months.

Feds’ Central Valley Project Expects to Send No Water to California Farms This Year, Little to Cities

After an extraordinarily dry start to the year, the federal government announced Wednesday that most farms in California will likely receive no water from the state’s biggest reservoirs in 2022, the latest fallout from drought and a blow to an agricultural industry already crippled by tight supplies. Cities and towns, meanwhile, will get just a fraction of the water they requested.

An impending third straight year of drought has left California’s federally managed reservoirs, including giant Shasta and Trinity lakes, soiled by cracked earth and “bathtub rings,” and standing as striking images of the state’s aridity. Many of the storage sites are at near-record lows for this point in the wet winter season, and officials at the Bureau of Reclamation say there’s just not enough water for everyone who needs it.

Already Unrecognizable at Only 24% Full, Lake Shasta Still Falling in 2nd-worst Year on Record

Recent rainfall hasn’t been nearly enough to make a dent in Lake Shasta’s precariously low water levels.

The lakebed where the water has receded still shows cracks where mud has hardened and over the summer, dust devils have swept the fine, dried silt into the air.

The drought has dropped Lake Shasta to its second worst level since the last bucket of concrete was poured for Shasta Dam in December 1945.

Could California Handle Another Year of Drought? State Officials Weigh in on Current Situation

In a multi-agency meeting on the state of California’s drought conditions, state officials painted a broader picture on water allocation, lack of available water and what the Golden State is facing in the months and years to come.

Officials expect record low water levels across the state, especially for Oroville and San Luis Reservoir. Jeanine Jones with the California Department of Water Resources said the state is at 58% of average reservoir storage as a whole for this time of year. As of Monday, Aug. 9, Lake Oroville came in at 34% of average and Folsom Lake came in at 35% of average.

Photos Show What July’s Heat and Drought Looked Like This Summer

Hot, dry, and ‘unrecognizable’ describes July 2021.

The West boiled with record-breaking heat, and persistent drought that has left the Colorado River, Lake Mead and Lake Powell two-thirds empty, a ‘bathtub’ ring lining the shores of the largest water sources serving California.

As more frequent heat waves broke records this summer, our photojournalists documented what it looked like and how we coped.

Stunning Drone Photos Show Severity of Drought at Lake Shasta

Droughts are common in California, but this year’s is much hotter and drier than others, evaporating water more quickly from the reservoirs and the sparse Sierra Nevada snowpack that feeds them.

The state’s more than 1,500 reservoirs are 50% lower than they should be this time of year, according to Jay Lund, co-director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis.

NASA Images Show Effects of Drought on California’s Largest Reservoirs

Satellite images recently released by NASA show how drought has affected Northern California’s Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville, the largest reservoirs in the state. NASA compared images taken earlier in June with images taken in the summer of 2019 to illustrate how water levels have declined over the two-year period.