Shasta Lake has demonstrated a significant recovery after years of severe drought, as latest satellite images reveal the lake has reached nearly 100% capacity, up from 31% in November 2022.
Spanning 365 miles of mountainous shoreline, Shasta Lake ranks as the eighth largest man-made reservoir in the U.S. Built in 1948 by the Shasta Dam, the lake serves as a critical source for flood control, agricultural water storage, and hydroelectric generation.
During the drought in November 2022, satellite images from NASA depicted a distinct “bathtub ring” around the lake, representing previous water levels:
By June 2023, the lake now sits at 98% full and the brown ring is now notably absent:
The state’s second-largest reservoir, Lake Oroville, likewise recorded impressive water level improvements, standing at 97% capacity on May 29. Despite the incredible water turnaround throughout Northern California, drought concerns aren’t completely over.
“Just one wet year is nowhere near large enough to refill the amount of groundwater storage that we’ve lost, say, over the last ten years or more,” said Jeanine Jones, a drought manager with the California DWR.
California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act around a decade ago to prevent over-extraction of groundwater for agricultural requirements. However, the deadlines to achieve sustainability and halt long-term depletion are nearly 20 years away, leaving basins under continuous strain.
California officials are taking proactive measures to optimize the recent surge in water levels. Besides natural groundwater recharge, they are exploring alternative strategies, such as water diversion into canals or ponds and subsurface injection.
Here’s to a beautiful, water-filled summer in NorCal!