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Folsom Lake is nearly full. But why are other reservoirs still drought stricken?

A surge of storms hit central CA last winter, but the rest of the state is dealing with below average water.

FOLSOM, Calif. — As temperatures hit triple digits, the Memorial Day weekend will be looking much different from a year ago.

“We are anticipating a very busy season - I mean compared to last year. When we have low water, that's what drives people out here is water level and the temperature, so we're expecting what nearly 90 degrees again this weekend so it's going to be busy,” said Richard Preston Le May, Folsom sector superintendent of California State Parks.

Water levels at Folsom Lake are now around 454 feet, or 87% of full. Capacity is 466 feet at Folsom Lake.

Last year, Preston-Le May said water was below 400 feet, causing boats to be pulled from docks and limiting the speed across the entire lake.

“In the 20 years I've been here, we haven't had the speed limit restriction and for the entire year, so that was unique to last year for me... but we have seen lower lake levels” Preston-Le May said.

Only four boat launch areas around the lake, Nimbus dam and the American River were opened in 2021. This year, all boat launches are open around Folsom Lake. No speed limit is required beyond the buoys either. Wakeboarders, tubers, and jet skiers are able to go on as usual. In 2021, a 5 mph zone was required across the lake.

A full Lake at Folsom is a rarity though across the state. Folsom is the only reservoir seeing better conditions than last year.

Shasta and Oroville, the state’s largest reservoirs, are only at 40% and 55% of capacity. 

Credit: KXTV

These reservoirs typically see more rainfall based on their proximity to Pacific Northwest storms. It’s worth mentioning though, these are massive reservoirs compared to Folsom and take much more water to fill.


Folsom Lake: Before and after historic winter storms

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