California's two largest reservoirs are at critically low levels.
According to a report from the US Drought Monitor this week, the two major reservoirs are being recorded at the lowest level possible at the point of the year when they should be the highest. Lake Shasta is reported at 40% of its total capacity, the lowest ever recorded at the beginning of May since record-keeping began in 1977. Lake Oroville was also recorded at low levels, at 55% of its capacity - only around 70% of where it should be at this time of year on average. “We anticipate that in the Sacramento Valley alone, over 350,000 acres of farmland will be fallowed,” Mary Lee Knecht, public affairs officer for the Bureau’s California-Great Basin Region, told CNN. For perspective, it’s an area larger than Los Angeles. “Cities and towns that receive [Central Valley Project] water supply, including Silicon Valley communities, have been reduced to health and safety needs only.”
The new recorded water levels are an alarming message for the state, not just as the impending summer heat and potential of water shortages are on the rise, but farming communities will be hit hardest. “Communities across California are going to suffer this year during the drought, and it’s just a question of how much more they suffer,” Gable told CNN. “It’s usually the most vulnerable communities who are going to suffer the worst, so usually the Central Valley comes to mind because this is an already arid part of the state with most of the state’s agriculture and most of the state’s energy development, which are both water-intensive industries.”
State officials and water experts are urging California officials and residents to completely rethink the accessibility of water use for the state, as California continues to enter drier years and remain in a significant drought status.