Critically low water levels in the Central Valley continue in 2014

The Central Valley continues into what is quickly becoming one of the driest time periods in decades.
January 1, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The Central Valley continues into what is quickly becoming one of the driest time periods in decades. Water levels are sitting at critically low levels at lakes and reservoirs around the state.

Areas, like Pine Flat, are as low as 17 percent capacity. The last time we saw such dry conditions was during the 1940's. And with no rainfall in the weather forecast the outlook so far is another incredibly dry year ahead.

A look at Millerton Lake shows just how bad our drought conditions are this time of year. A huge mound in the middle of the lake is normally only visible by a few feet. But because Millerton Lake is at 43 percent capacity a lot more of the lake bottom is visible.

"It comes from here so, if it's not coming down the mountain, you'll have to get it out of the ground," said Fresno County farmer Judi Silveira. She and her husband drove to the lake on New Year's Day to check the levels first hand.

They're worried, as growers, they are facing another year with no water allocation and shrinking profits.

"You know, farming is a livelihood of a lot of people here and it affects a lot of people downstream," she said. "And we need our water."

Park officials say lake levels have not been this low in years. The main boat ramp is bone dry and its docks are just sitting on the dirt.

It's quite the change from 2011 when so much rain and snow fell the lake spilled over the Friant Dam.

Millerton Lake will likely not reach those levels again anytime soon. Snow pack right now is only a fraction of what it usually is in January.

The lack of water, though, is making for an intriguing outing for the Rios family, and many others exploring what's usually submerged.

"That's the reason we wanted to come," Rachel Rios said. "My parents wanted to let the kids run up the mountains and see how it is without the water."

A rare experience that will also have a brutal impact as we begin this new year.

Some predictions indicate the dry conditions will mean as little as five percent, if any, water allocations for growers. A clearer picture of this drought will come when snow pack samples are taken on Friday.


Load Comments