San Luis Reservoir at lowest level in 25 years

Thursday, August 4, 2016
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The San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos is at it's lowest level in 25 years.

LOS BANOS, Calif. (KFSN) -- Despite projections of an adequate water supply this year, one of the Valleys biggest water sources appears to be running dry. The San Luis Reservoir near Los Banos is at it's lowest level in 25 years.

It's not unusual to see the San Luis Reservoir low this time of year, but this year is really low. It's down to just 10-percent of capacity.

"The level is pretty low, the lowest I've seen in years," said Luther Vue, Fresno.

Vue, a fisherman, the low water makes things tough.

"It's pretty tiring the walk down there, is at least one or two miles walk back up is tiring too." Vue added, "Once you get down there the water, the water isn't that deep, it's pretty shallow, you can't really fish in shallow water."

Obviously with the reservoir at the lowest level in 25 years. Those who depend on the water are getting worried.

"It's a major concern and it should be a concern for every water user, whether you are a farmer or a city manager or resident of a community," said Johnny Amaral of the Westlands Water District.

Amaral said even though the Northern California reservoirs that send water this way are full, the valley is being kept waiting.

"What's hindering the federal operations is the fact they are holding water back in Shasta much later than they ever have historically for the purposes, supposed purposes, of maintaining cold water for salmon. But this is the time of the highest demand for the water, not just for agriculture but for everyone."

The Bureau of Reclamation which is responsible for about half the water in the reservoir hopes the salmon will survive and they can start sending more water this way in the next couple of weeks. The other half of the water here is controlled by the state, and despite the current low, operations chief John Leehigh said they expect to deliver all the water they promised this year.

"In the case of the state water project we've allocated 60-percent to our contractors and we anticipate we will make all of those deliveries this year."

Farmers are hoping the water will come. And despite the less than ideal conditions, fishermen at the reservoir were happy to at least get home with one fish-- a striped bass.

In addition to holding back water for salmon, fresh water that would have gone to San Luis Reservoir has been diverted into the delta in an effort to keep rising ocean waters from San Francisco Bay from getting into the river system. It's always a real balancing act.