The two largest reservoirs in California are already at ‘critically low levels’ and the dry season is just starting

Against the backdrop of the water crisis in the Colorado River Basin, where the country’s largest reservoirs are plunging at an alarming rate, California’s two largest reservoirs — Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville — are facing a similar struggle.

Years of low rainfall and snowpack and more intense heat waves have fed directly to the state’s multiyear, unrelenting drought conditions, rapidly draining statewide reservoirs. And according to this week’s report from the US Drought Monitor, the two major reservoirs are at “critically low levels” at the point of the year when they should be the highest.

This week, Shasta Lake is only at 40% of its total capacity, the lowest it has ever been at the start of May since record-keeping began in 1977. Meanwhile, further south, Lake Oroville is at 55% of its capacity, which is 70% of where it should be around this time on average.

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