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Footage shows world's largest water drain reawaken after lake refills following years-long drought: 'We're all very happy'

Intense storms, made worse by the El Niño weather cycle, have brought much-needed water to the state.

Intense storms, made worse by the El Niño weather cycle, have brought much-needed water to the state.

Photo Credit: iStock

Following heavy rainfall in California in the early stages of 2024, the largest reservoir in Napa County has seen water levels rise to their highest in years.

It's great news for the health of the lake and eases the burden of water shortages on local residents, but it has also reawakened a fascinating feature.

At Lake Berryessa, the Morning Glory Spillway has been called into action for the first time in four years, as Newsweek observed. The 72-foot-diameter concrete funnel sends excess water to Putah Creek, and it's quite a sight to behold.

The world's largest drain hole, also known by locals as the "Glory Hole," has not been required as water levels have been troublingly low.

But intense storms, made worse by the El Niño weather cycle, have brought much-needed water to the state, although there have been some consequences.

February 2024 brought an atmospheric river that put 20 million people under flash flood alerts, forced roads and airports to shut, caused power outages, and resulted in mud and rock slides, as CNN reported.

Rising global temperatures are making weather conditions increasingly unpredictable. After years of drought conditions in California, the arrival of rain was welcome, but the intensity of the storms brought significant danger to residents.

But with the extreme weather conditions easing for the time being, locals can enjoy the remarkable sight of water tumbling down the Morning Glory Spillway.

"Everyone wants it," Peter Kilkus of Lake Berryessa News told the Napa Valley Register, per Newsweek. "That lake is essentially full. … We're all very happy that it's full."

According to the Watershed Information & Conservation Council of Napa Valley, the water drops 200 feet straight down toward a narrowing pipe. It then enters Putah Creek and eventually heads to the Yolo Bypass.

"It's all curved, so you have the least resistance for the water to go down The Glory Hole," Jim Daniels, district engineer for Solano Irrigation District, told the WICC. "And it's very efficient. It's not very turbulent. It's actually rather placid. It's not that placid down inside The Glory Hole itself."

Lake Berryessa is not the only basin that is seeing some signs of hope. The Great Salt Lake in Utah received water from the full Utah Lake in February, thanks to a wetter-than-usual winter and record snowpack melts. 

The lake had been at risk of ecosystem collapse, but a welcome influx of water will help to support aquatic creatures and migratory birds while also easing water concerns for residents and reducing the exposure of toxic dust on the lake bed. 

But water levels in lakes can also be supported by reduced domestic water consumption. For example, shutting off the tap while brushing your teeth can save eight gallons of water, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Switching to a native plant lawn can also make a difference through less need to water, with 175,000 gallons saved over a year compared to monoculture lawns.

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