Cachuma Lake Still Catching Up After Years of Drought

The Santa Barbara County reservoir is in a small part of the state that remains in severe drought

Santa Barbara County's long-suffering Cachuma Lake is nowhere close to being full after years of drought, but this winter's storms are slowly raising the water level and one of its boat ramps may finally reopen.

Runoff has raised the level of the reservoir about 17 feet since the start of the year and another 10 feet would allow one boat launch ramp to open for the first time since 2015. That could happen within the next two weeks. 

As of Friday, the lake is still only at about 15 percent of capacity.

By comparison, the state's two largest reservoirs, Northern California's Oroville and Shasta, at 126 and 124 percent. Nearly all of California's major water reservoirs are above average following January's series of storms.

Cachuma Lake is in a now-tiny but persistent area of extreme drought even as storms have freed much of California from such conditions. Severe drought is down to 11 percent of the state, compared to 82 percent at this time last year.

"In Santa Barbara and northern Ventura counties, an area of Extreme Drought has remained in place as local reservoirs and groundwater levels have been lagging behind other indicators as a result of the cumulative effect of significant long-term precipitation deficits," according to the U.S. Drought Monitor report released Thursday.

About 47 percent of the state is in drought, according to this week's report, down form 95 percent at this time last year.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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