As Storms Arrive in California, Reservoirs Are in Good Shape. But the Water Forecast is Murky

As forecasts tease California with rainstorms this week, the state’s reservoirs are already flush with water.

It’s a big departure from a year ago: The state’s major reservoirs — which store water collected mostly from rivers in the northern portion of the state  — are in good shape, with levels at 124% of average. In late 2022, bathtub rings of dry earth lined lakes that had collectively dipped to about two-thirds of average — until heavy winter storms in January filled many of them almost to the brim.

Lake Oroville Spillway in Active Use as Lake Shasta Nears Capacity as Well

The last time Lake Oroville neared capacity was four years ago, and very quickly it plunged into drought territory and has seen low water levels until this winter. And now that billion-dollar, renovated spillway is back in use as the reservoir is back at 99% of its capacity.

The Feather River is getting a fair amount of extra water flow these days as Lake Oroville has been releasing water over the last week. Oroville is California’s second-largest reservoir, with a capacity of over 3.5 million acre-feet of water, and also just about at capacity is the state’s largest reservoir, Lake Shasta, which has a capacity of 4.5 million acre-feet and is at 98%.

How the Winter Storm Could Impact California Reservoirs

Southern California is bracing for a cold winter storm this weekend that is expected to bring up to 5 feet of snow accumulation in certain areas.

While this forecast might curtail your outdoor weekend plans, it is excellent news for the state’s recovering water reservoirs.

Opinion: The Colorado River at the End of Water Year 2022: A Status Report

I don’t see how this ends well.

Most of the major players – the ones that matter, anyway, by which I mean Arizona, California, and the federal government – appear boxed in by constraints they can’t seem to overcome, while the water in the Colorado River’s big reservoirs is circling the drains.

Dry January Raises Drought Concerns, Precipitation Relief Not Immediate

The nice weather in January is setting the wrong record.

From a wet December to a dry January, this month saw such little precipitation it marks the second driest January on record.

“We need 20 to 21 inches more of precipitation over the Sierra to close the season out to finish at normal,” said Craig Shoemaker, a meteorologist and climate program manager for the National Weather Service.

Drought Forces West to Turn to Fossil Fuels That Helped Cause It

An unlikely energy sector is emerging as a winner from the West’s megadrought: fossil fuels, whose heavy use has been blamed for creating the conditions causing the drought in the first place.

The drought has slashed the electricity-generating capacity of major hydroelectric dams, forcing buyers to spend millions of dollars to buy extra power from an expensive sellers’ market.

California Moves Slowly on Water Projects Amid Drought

In 2014, in the middle of a severe drought that would test California’s complex water storage system like never before, voters told the state to borrow $7.5 billion and use part of it to build projects to stockpile more water.

Seven years later, that drought has come and gone, replaced by an even hotter and drier one that is draining the state’s reservoirs at an alarming rate. But none of the more than half-dozen water storage projects scheduled to receive that money have been built.

Roseville to Take 1.2 Billion Gallons From Wells to Supply Residents With Water

The city of Roseville plans to take 1.2 billion gallons from its wells to supply about 53,000 households with running water this summer.

State reservoirs have receded to their lowest point in years. To prepare for dry seasons, Roseville has invested in new technology to boost its groundwater supply by ingesting water from previous snowmelt and rainy seasons into underground wells so when water is most needed, the city isn’t entirely reliant on Folsom Lake.

California Drought: One of the State’s Biggest Reservoirs Hit a Record Low this Week

Lake Oroville, one of California’s biggest reservoirs, reached its lowest-ever point this week, breaking a record set decades ago in the latest troubling sign of the punishing drought conditions afflicting the state.

The lake reached a “new historic low elevation” of 642.73 feet of water, which is down from 645 feet in September 1977, said John Yarbrough, assistant deputy director of the California State Water Project, in a statement.

Photos: Drone Views of EBMUD Reservoirs as California Faces Extreme Drought

After a very dry winter and spring, all of California is now in some level of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. One year ago, just 58 percent of California was in drought.

In the East Bay, the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s reservoirs total system capacity is currently at 61% full, which is 73% of average. The district is in decent shape for now, but is encouraging its customers to conserve water as much as possible. The Upper San Leandro Reservoir (63% full) and the Briones (93% full) and San Pablo Reservoirs (55% full) are fed from the Pardee Reservoir (87% full) in Calaveras County, which provides 90% of EBMUD water. From Pardee, the water travels 95 miles through the Mokelumne Aqueduct to the East Bay, where it’s treated and stored until needed, serving 35 municipalities and 1.4 million customers.