Drained Bass Lake concerning business owners


The water level at Bass Lake in Madera County is at the lowest point it's been in years. "This is the dry end so it will be this way but it's exceptionally low this year because we're short on water," said John Gilbert.

The Coarsegold resident finds the partially drained lake an eyesore but his dog seems to be loving the sandy terrain. "It's a good place because it's so low to walk the dog out in the sand," said Gilbert.

The Crane Valley Dam at Bass Lake has been undergoing a seismic retrofit since 2009. PG&E crews have kept the water levels low to perform upgrades on the 100-year-old structure. "What it required us to do is to lower the lake level about 10 feet below normal in the recreational season. A little lower in the winter when the water would have already been low anyway and just basically build up the dam more," said PG&E spokesperson Denny Boyles.

But with rain and snowfall totals below normal for this time of year, businesses who rely on the lake are worried for the upcoming recreational season.

"We as business owners are getting a little nervous about the weather because there is no snow pack up there to fill the lake, which is what Bass Lake needs," said Leslie Cox, president of the Bass Lake Chamber of Commerce. Her resort along the lake has been able to stay afloat, but the lack of snow has been a major concern.

"This year it is lower and its affected the visitors' ability to launch a boat right now. We're hoping that will rectify once the snow runoff starts and the dam project stops," said Cox.

The water level is 8 feet lower than it was last year and PG&E crews are hoping a late snow season helps fill the lake for the summer months. The project itself is not expected to be completed until spring of next year.

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