As the West descends deeper into drought, climate and water experts are growing increasingly alarmed by California’s severely shriveling reservoirs.
Photos of Lake Orville, Lake Folsom, Trinity Lake and Shasta, taken by Times photographer Brian van der Brug using a drone, unveil the harsh reality of the Golden State's not-so-golden drought.
On Monday, Shasta Lake — the largest reservoir in the state — held a scant 1.57 million acre-feet of water, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, or about 35% of its capacity. Jeffrey Mount, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, said “everybody should be concerned” by what they’re seeing.
“The reservoir levels we’re looking at are near-record low, with all the prospects that they will actually be record low by the end of the summer,” he said. “The mountains are dried out. The sponge is completely dry.”
Many scientists studying California’s drought point to 1976-77 as a “worst-case scenario” benchmark. That drought brought Lake Oroville to its all-time record low of 646 feet above sea level.