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Water Levels In California's Reservoirs Continue To Drop

Marnette Federis / Capital Public Radio

Lake Oroville Reservoir in November 2014.

Marnette Federis / Capital Public Radio

Statewide all reservoirs – more than150 of them – hold about 57-percent of the water they normally do.  The amount is measured in acre-feet.

One acre foot is enough to supply a typical residential household for a year. Right now reservoirs hold about 12 million acre feet.

Maury Roos is the Chief Hydrologist with the Department of Water Resources. He says it’s not as severe as the drought of 1976, but it’s not good either.

“It’s probably comparable with what it was at the end of 1992, the end of the 1992 water year, which was a six year period of drought,” says Roos.


(Lake Oroville Reservoir in August 2013. Amy Quinton / Capital Public Radio)

But Roos says the picture is grim for the state’s major reservoirs. Lake Oroville Reservoir, for example, is near the lowest level it’s ever been.

"It’s not a whole lot above the minimum of record. It’s 924,000 acre feet. The minimum we had was 882,000 near the fall of 1977. That was a severe two-year drought, the worst two dry years we’ve had in a row,”says Roos.

The state's major reservoirs now hold only about 43-percent of the historic average. 

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