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Officials celebrate recovery of iconic American lake as water levels peak for first time in years: 'Extremely encouraging'

"As always, we need to keep an eye on the water."

"As always, we need to keep an eye on the water."

Photo Credit: iStock

The recovery of a major body of water is being celebrated in California, with water levels reaching their highest point in over a decade.

Big Bear Lake has benefited from the heavy rains in early 2023 and early 2024, which boosted snowpacks and filled the reservoir to above the last high set in 2012. 

As of June 8, according to the California Globe, Big Bear Lake was just 4 feet away from being considered full, marking a huge turnaround following years of drought conditions in the state. The last time the lake reached capacity was in 2010.

"It's magical, because the lake is so pretty, and it's so blue," Brittany Lamson, Big Bear Municipal Water District interim general manager, told the news outlet. "We have a lot of native plants that are coming back, which we haven't seen because it had been so dry,"

Indeed, conditions were so dry several years ago that many farms had to be cut off from water access, while pumping was strictly limited. Scientists even expected the situation to get worse before it got better.

But major storms in the state at the start of 2023 saw reservoirs recover and snowpacks reaching 250% of the levels that would satisfy water demands in the summer, per the Globe. With further storms at the start of 2024, an unprecedented point was reached and water had to be pumped out of Lake Shasta because it was so full.

The health of Big Bear Lake is not only crucial for state water supply, but for tourism, too. Boat launches are open again, and the area is anticipating many visitors who want to take advantage of the abundant water for recreational activities.

"As always, we need to keep an eye on the water and continue to check water levels and continue to be ready for droughts in the future," Jack Wesley, water systems consultant for farms and multi-family homes, told the Globe. "This is California. But we are going to be OK for a while. Lake Oroville topping off and Big Bear about to top off are extremely encouraging. This is something Californians can feel good about."

As Wesley warned, monitoring the lake is extremely important. With human-caused global heating making extreme weather conditions more intense and long-lasting, the next drought could be around the corner. 

To mitigate the risks of intense heat waves that encourage droughts, cutting planet-warming pollution is essential. Thankfully, California is a leader when it comes to clean technologies, with over 1 million electric cars registered in the state — around five times more than Florida, the next highest state in EV take-up, according to the U.S. Department of Energy

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