Folsom Lake, one of California’s largest reservoirs, is crucial to providing water to the state’s 40 million-plus residents.
But this year, relentless heat and dry conditions have evaporated the already below-average snowpack on the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains that supply the reservoir, bringing the lake’s water levels to previously unseen lows.
Speaking to ABC News’ Zohreen Shah on what should be the lake’s floor, Rich Preston-Lemay, the sector superintendent for Folsom Lake Park, said that under normal conditions, where they were standing would be 70 feet underwater.
“The water that we’re on right now is used for a variety of things, from drinking water for some of the local municipalities [to] … downstream on the American River for the fisheries habitat, and then for other water consumers downstream for farming, agricultural purposes,” said Preston-Lemay, who’s overseen the lake for nearly 20 years.
Worsening drought is currently affecting all of California, threatening cascading issues from farmers’ yields to the state’s hydroelectric power plants, which could then cause rolling blackouts statewide and wildfires that displace entire communities.
California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said the drought is caused by climate change, and that it’s no longer a phenomenon they are solely trying to preempt.