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  • Writer's pictureWGON

California Drought Emergency: ‘Critically Low’ Levels at Shasta, Oroville Dams

Two of California’s dams are at “critically low” levels at a time of year when they are usually full-to-overflowing, signaling that the Golden State is about to enter a brutal phase of a drought that has lasted three years thus far and has no end in sight.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday:

At a point in the year when California’s water storage should be at its highest, the state’s two largest reservoirs have already dropped to critically low levels — a sobering outlook for the hotter and drier months ahead. Shasta Lake, which rises more than 1,000 feet above sea level when filled to the brim, is at less than half of where it usually should be in early May — the driest it has been at this time of year since record-keeping first began in 1976. Lake Oroville, the largest reservoir in the State Water Project, a roughly 700-mile lifeline that pumps and ferries water all the way to Southern California, is currently at 55% of total capacity. In the U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest report, officials described both reservoir conditions as “critically low” going into the summer. Other water officials in recent days have called this “the worst drought in the history of the State Water Project.”

Typically, dams are so full in spring, following winter rainfall and snowmelt, that they have to release water downstream.

The drought is the second in a decade, interrupted only by the very heavy precipitation of the 2017 and 2018 winters. In 2017, as Breitbart News reported, the Oroville Dam was so full that the emergency spillway began to fail, forcing hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate towns in the valley below. The damage to the main spillway took a year to repair.

Last year, water levels at Oroville were so low that the dam’s hydroelectric plant was forced to stop working for the first time.

California residents are facing the prospect of mandatory water restrictions this year, with vigorous monitoring of water use.

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