Here’s how low California’s reservoirs are and what to expect in the future – San Bernardino Sun


Here’s a look at the state of California’s reservoirs during another drought:

There hasn’t been much good news about California’s water supply lately, but there might be some relief along the way. The North-of-Delta Offstream Storage project, often referred to as a planned site reservoir, was authorized by Congress in 2003. The long-delayed project received a financial boost in March when the federal government signaled its intention to lend to the project nearly $2.2 billion. — about half the cost of design, planning and construction.

The proposal would flood what remains of the town of Sites, which is home to just a handful of residents in a valley in the Coast Mountains of rural Colusa County. The new reservoir could increase Northern California’s water storage capacity by up to 15% and hold enough water to supply about 1.5 to 3 million homes for a year, although much of the water would be used for agricultural purposes.

What scientists call a mega-drought caused by climate change and which is the worst in 1,200 years has breathed new life into the project. He is also in line to secure about $875 million from a voter-approved bond, plus another $450 million loan from the US Department of Agriculture.

The proposed reservoir is a downstream facility that would not dam a large river or impede fish migration or spawning. But environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the project would take too much water from the Sacramento River, harming endangered salmon species.

Environmental reviews are continuing and there is unlikely to be a first breakthrough before 2024.

California Tank Conditions:


The largest reservoir in Southern California is filled to 88% of its total capacity.

Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet is a key asset to offset the lack of water from other sources after another year of below normal rainfall.

“The lake has a purpose that helps us in emergencies like earthquakes, but mostly in droughts like this,” said Brent Yamasaki, chief operating officer of the Metropolitan Water District. “It actually holds more water when full than Lake Havasu.”


Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, provides water to approximately 25 million people in Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico. It is losing water at an alarming rate. It is currently only at 27% capacity. California is entitled to 4.4 million acre-feet of water unless the lake reaches lower levels.

If the lake remains at its current level, a level 2 shortage will be declared, further reducing the amount of water that Arizona, Nevada and Mexico can use from the Colorado River. If the forecast is lower than 1,045 feet, as the latest forecast suggests, parts of California would also be forced to reduce their water use from the Colorado River.

At Level 3 – what forecasts suggest is possible from January 2024 – water cuts could be deep enough to extend beyond agriculture and impact water use by households and industry.

In the latest maps, areas of extreme and exceptional drought have expanded into central Nevada and exceptional drought has been expanded to include more of California’s San Joaquin Valley.

Sources: US Drought Monitor, KABC news, The Associated Press,, California Department of Water Resources, US Department of Interior

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