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Lake levels up but drought still in effect

By Tyler May, tmay@krcrtv.com
Published On: Mar 10 2014 09:15:47 PM CDT
OROVILLE, Calif. -

The recent rain storms have brought up lake levels at both Lake Oroville and Shasta Lake.

However, experts at the California Department of Water Resources said we are nowhere near where we need to be to declare this historic drought over.

DWR experts said we are going to need a lot more rain to get through the summer.

“I'm just really shocked by the low levels. It's surprised me so much,” said Lake Oroville visitor, Jonathan Robert.

Millions of people depend on the water supply from Lake Oroville and Shasta Lake; and the DWR said one, two, or three storms simply won't be enough fill the quota.

“Even though we have been getting a lot of rain and a lot of rain storms in the last week and half it has not stopped or prevented this drought,” said Jana Frazier, from DWR. “We are still in drought mode.”

In the last few weeks the lake levels rose about 15 percent due to the recent rain storms. It brought the total at Lake Oroville to 736 feet in elevation.

In order for the region to have enough water for the summer the water level needs to be at 900 feet.

“It would almost be impossible,” said Frazier. “We can always hope the skies open up as a biblical downpour, but I just don't see it happening. There's no rain forecasted this week.”

The DWR said in the 1970s there was a severe drought that lasted some eight years. However, this time around is much more troubling, because now more people are depending on that water.

“The issue in the 1970s was we had 20 million less people in the state than we have now,” said Frazier.

DWR experts said Lake Oroville is only about a third full, and there isn't a strong enough snow pack to refill it in the summer.

They are recommending everyone to cut back on water usage by 20 to 25 percent.

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