• Outdoors Outdoors

Major US lake expected to completely fill after years of historic drought: 'We're feeling very good'

"The employees are coming back, lake levels are up, and business is looking good."

"The employees are coming back, lake levels are up, and businesses is looking good.”

Photo Credit: iStock

California's largest reservoir is expected to reach its maximum capacity this year, to likely reach a full or nearly full level for the second consecutive time following several years of historically low water levels. 

Lake Shasta rose 12 feet from March 1-26 and needs another 17 feet to reach its limit, the Redding Record Searchlight reported.

"We're expecting it to creep right up to the top," said Don Bader, area manager for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, per the news outlet.

As of March 27, the lake was 90% full and 115% of the average for this time of year. However, Bader noted the difficulty for it to completely fill since the lake is narrow at the bottom and gets wider at the top.

In March, the bureau began limiting the water released from the Shasta Dam to allow the lake to fill, per the Record Searchlight. On March 13, it was releasing 14,000 cubic feet per second — equivalent to 377 million gallons an hour. It had reduced the release rate to 3,569 cubic feet per second two weeks later, as more than three times that amount flowed into the lake.

"The rain right now is perfect for us to just top it off by the end of April," Bader told the newspaper.

The lake is one of the state's most crucial freshwater sources, sending water as far south as Bakersfield for drinking, agricultural irrigation, and wildlife habitat through the Central Valley Water Project.

According to a previous Record Searchlight report, Lake Shasta was 24% full and 175 feet from the top of the dam in late 2021. However, atmospheric rivers have inundated the region, reviving several bodies of water like Lake Shasta and Lake Tulare.

The full Lake Shasta will benefit the entire state, but the local economy will also likely see its most profitable summer season since before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"We're feeling very good. We had a great lake last year, a full lake level, and it was fantastic. Not only just cabin tours, our dinner cruises were record-breaking. This year, we're expecting the same but on an even better, positive note," Matt Doyle, general manager of Lake Shasta Caverns, said

"This is going to be finally the year where it seems COVID is almost a distant memory. The employees are coming back, lake levels are up, and business is looking good."

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