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Shasta Lake businesses fighting drought perception

By Vienna Montague, Producer
Published On: Jun 13 2014 08:42:21 PM CDT
REDDING, Calif. -

Shasta Lake’s dropping shoreline has businesses fighting the perception that there’s no water in the lake.

The general manager of Lake Shasta Caverns and President of the Shasta Lake Business Owners Association, Matt Doyle tracks lake levels very carefully.

He said that Shasta Lake has dropped around 25 feet from its high water mark.

“This is the high water mark that we came up to," Doyle said pointing to grooves in the shoreline.  "Roughly about 81 feet this past winter, and since that time we're already started dropping down."

“Right now we're sitting at about 106 feet [below the crest]. We're expected to get down to 188 feet by the end of October," continued Doyle.

188 feet below the high water mark would be 50 feet above the 1977 record of 238 feet below the crest. It’s bad, but could be much worse if we don’t see a rainy season next year.

“If we do not get an El Nino, if it does remain dry, it could be very disastrous for next year, possibly breaking 1977 levels,” Doyle said. “I hope not, but that case does exist.”

Doyle said houseboat reservations are down 40 to 45 percent this year.

Duane Andrew and his family visited the lake Friday. The Andrew family is from John Day, Oregon. He rented a boat for his vacation and doesn’t regret it one bit.

“We had never been to Shasta so we thought it would be pretty cool,” Andrew said.

Low lake levels don’t just affect businesses on the lake. Doyle said it affects  the entire Northstate.

“It really affects the entire county and Northern California,” Doyle said. “Shasta Lake is one of the biggest attractions for tourism and recreation within the area. If you ever go down to Redding, go to the Costco in Redding or some of the local hotels you see lots of boats down there. They're all coming up to Shasta Lake, as well as Whiskeytown, with Shasta Lake being the bigger of the two. So it's really affecting the entire area. The less tourism we have up here, the less recreation."

Doyle said the losses can be costly, from hundreds of thousands to maybe even millions of dollars lost.