Goodbye drought, California reservoirs bursting with water

July 23, 2023

Santa Margarita Lake


After months of pounding rains and a cooler than usual June, California reservoirs are bursting with water leaving only 6% of the state currently in drought. A year ago, more than 99% of California was in drought, according to the U.S. drought monitor.

Torrential rains transformed an arid landscape into an water rich environment with rushing waterways, brimming lakes and swollen underground basins.

After a record setting snow pack, scientists feared the snow would melt quickly leading to flooding. However, mild temperatures in June resulted in a moderate melt that has continued to feed into state reservoirs.

Current Central Coast and major state reservoir levels:

  • Santa Margarita Lake at 97%, SLO County
  • Lake Nacimiento at 83%, SLO and Monterey counties
  • Lopez Lake at 99%, SLO County
  • Whale Rock Reservoir at 99.7%, SLO County
  • Cachuma Lake at 98%, Santa Barbara County
  • Twitchell Reservoir 44%, Santa Barbara County
  • Gibraltar Reservoir 98%, Santa Barbara County
  • Jameson Reservoir 99%, Santa Barbara County
  • San Antonio Lake at 68%, Monterey County
  • Oroville Dam 95%, Butte County
  • Trinity Lake at 58%, Trinity County
  • Don Pedro Reservoir at 97%, Mariposa County
  • Shasta Dam at 88%, Shasta County
  • San Luis Reservoir at 93%, Merced County


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I am gratified to see that there are commentors who value our natural resources and realize the difference between having a portion of water stored and maintaining true sustainability. Might I suggest that we all look into the return of BEAVERS to their natural habitats in this county? Several other states are way ahead of us on this one.

Beavers store water in great quantities. Their structures slow and spread water, which soaks into the aquifers and recharges them year-round. The resultant wetlands (of which California once had many) create excellent biodiversity and aid in adding cool air and humidity to the surrounding climate. This in turn drops the probability of fire whilst providing an excellent refuge from any fire that does occur.

Beaver dams also provide some protection from and delivers lessening impacts from flooding, as they slow and store water over a vast area and make the soil more receptive to absorption, rather than run-off.

When welcoming actual beavers seems impractical, there is also the option of BDA, Beaver Dam Analogs. These mimic the structures beavers create, but limits the application to those erected, rather than letting the beavers continuously expand. Remedies have also been created to limit the work of the actual beavers to that which is desired.

The San Luis Beaver Brigade would be very glad to help you understand the latest tech for reintroducing and living with beavers in this county, which was once their natural habitat and had an abundance of water as the result.

Kids adore this stuff, by the way.

Full man made reservoirs do not “end” a drought. When natural lakes and streams, springs, and wetlands are able to last the entire Spring, Summer, and Fall, THEN you can start to examine if the drought is over.

I totally agree on the natural resource perspective. Additionally, until there is enforcement to squelch unlawful abuse, the greater problem is that we are funding agencies that are all about controlling their payroll.

How about the aquifers? Are they doing as well as the reservoirs?

We’ve built reservoirs everywhere that is easy. Reservoir storage is about half of our supply. Reservoirs are only helpful if it rains. The groundwater isnt refilling because the water needs to cover vast areas to soak in and we have built so much control of it that it just runs and doesn’t flood any more. Much easier to reduce usage and to invest in recycling water.

For this year maybe that doesn’t mean you can put in acres of vineyards and build more motels etc. You are still pushing can down the road haven’t figured how to store more water look at the amount than ran into ocean

Yeppers, dams, recharge basins, be climate resilient because a s**t storm is coming.

It’s hot today. OMG the sky is falling

It is still worth the effort to reduce water waste; for every wet year there is a dry one coming.