Water levels low at Pine Flat Lake amid drought conditions

Officials say the Pine Flat Lake area typically has about 20 miles of open water for boating, but now there's only four.

Brittany Jacob Image
Wednesday, September 14, 2022
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A parched Summer has dried out lakes. The water levels dropped so low at Pine Flat Lake, that you can now see the ridge lines.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A parched Summer has dried out lakes.

The water levels dropped so low at Pine Flat Lake, that you can now see the ridge lines.

Lake conditions change every single day, according to officials.

What you're seeing is a lake that fluctuates 300 vertical feet a year on a normal basis.

Officials say the Pine Flat Lake area typically has about 20 miles of open water for boating, but now there's only four because of areas where the water is just too low.

Jake Severns is the project manager of the lake and says this is among the lowest levels they've seen in years.

The majority of the lake's water comes from snowmelt in the high Sierra but due to the drought, it's been consistently bad for years.

"Don't assume the lake you came to today is going to be the same lake tomorrow," Severns said.

Severns still encourages people to visit, but warns not to boat too close to the shore.

"You will see a lot of people hugging the shore sometime, we try to educate them," he said. "You've got room out here -- stay counterclockwise on the lake, but give yourself 200 feet or more from the shoreline and you'll avoid those trees that might be popping up and any potential islands that are coming out."

But it's not just trees emerging from the water -- history has also been revealed.

Local historian Elizabeth Laval says certain bricks are ruins from the old trimmer springs jail.

According to Laval, construction of the dam started in 1949 and was completed in 1954.

She says that year's snow pack was the first water to ever fill the dam.

Laval says these droughts are cyclical, so she's hopeful for the future.

"While we are in dire straits now, I firmly believe we'll have some good years," she said.