Lake Level Status: 2/24/17

Lake level topped out at 443.6 feet, 3.6 feet over the Morning Glory (Glory Hole) Spillway! The lake has now dropped back to 443.1 feet due to the constant outflow through Glory Hole and the normal dam output.

The lake level has only reached Glory Hole 26 times in its 58 year history.

The level has risen 44.8 feet since its low of 398.6 feet on 10/23/16 and 39.7 feet since January 1, 2017. Rainfall total is at to 40.4 inches.

The Bureau of Reclamation published a press release regarding launching and other services during flood stage:

Capell Cove Boat Launch is currently closed and will reopen once water levels recede to allow for safe launching. The water was into the parking lot making it inaccessible with insufficient grade. We are monitoring lake levels and hope to reopen as soon as possible, once waters recede.

Capell Launch Ramp 022317

Due to high water levels, some recreation services are currently limited or not available.

Courtesy docks at Putah Canyon Recreation Area and Steele Canyon Recreation Area have been removed due to high water and will be positioned again once water levels recede.

Boat launching is currently available at all concession sites; however, it is recommended that visitors call ahead for current information and conditions. Most concession areas and recreation areas are experiencing some reduction in services related to the high water.

Visitors are encouraged to contact concession operators or the Lake Berryessa Field Office before visiting the lake for up-to-date information.

For more information, please contact the Lake Berryessa Field Office at 707-966-2111 ext. 0 or visit the Lake Berryessa website at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/ccao/berryessa/ .

Lake Berryessa concession area contact information:

Markley Cove , 707-966-2134,www.markleycoveresort.com

Pleasure Cove Marina , 707-966-9600, www.goberryessa.com

Steele Canyon Recreation Area , 707-966-9179, www.goberryessa.com

Spanish Flat Recreation Area , 707-966-0200, www.spanishflatcamping.com

Putah Canyon Recreation Area , 707-966-9051, www.royalelkparkmanagement.com    


Lake Berryessa and our Glory Hole (Morning Glory) Spillway have become famous nationally and worldwide during the last two weeks, mostly due to the amazing drone videos by our Lake Berryessa News Drone piloted by FAA-certified drone operator Evan Kilkus.

Lake Berryessa has been featured in the New York TimesA story just appeared on CBS This Morning at 7:45 AM.


Our latest videos have gone viral.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxOOnKL265I (1,077,000 views)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iHAjOrrU4k (235,700 views)

Lake level topped out at 443.6 - 3.6 feet over the Glory Hole spillway! This is above the highest lake level in 11 years on January 2, 2006.

It was only 3.1 feet lower than the highest level in lake history - 446.7 feet in 1983 - 6.7 feet above Glory Hole. Does anyone have pictures of the 1983 event? Please post them here or send them to pkilkus@gmail.com.

Lake Levels 2006 to 022117
Full lake level history 2015


Glory Hole Smooth Combo 021917

In 2006 the lake level remained above Glory Hole for 138 days. The graph below is an overlay of rainfall vs. level during that period.

Rainfall vs Level 2006


This link has an odd voiceover but some good basic information and a nice animation of how the Glory Hole works. Also illustrations of the Lake Oroville problems.





Glory Hole spills 021217


And NO, Monticello Dam will not fail. It is a totally different design from the Oroville Dam. There's a report on my web site which discusses flood probability: http://lakeberryessanews.com/publications/

2016-17 Rainy Season: Drought or Flood - What Are The Chances?

There was also a story in the Davis Enterprise in 2014 which described the various dam failure possibilities: 

Could Monticello Dam Fail?



Water In, Water Out, But From Where?

The rain causing the rapid increase in lake levels raises questions for some about where all the water comes from and where it goes. The lake is rising and lower Putah Creek is flowing fast, but not much water is being released from the dam. And some people question why any water is being released from Lake Berryessa when it is not yet full.

Many people don’t understand that Lake Berryessa was created for: 1. Irrigation in Solano County, 2. Drinking water (now for 500,000 people). Recreational use was not considered a priority because of the large swings in water level expected. 

Many also don’t realize that Napa County gets little of Lake Berryessa water except for the small villages scattered around the lake like the Berryessa Highlands, Spanish Flat, Berryessa Pines, and Berryessa Estates. But that’s a political history story for another day.

The watershed for Lake Berryessa is derived from the 568 square mile drainage basin above the dam. There are four principal creeks that flow into Lake Berryessa: Capell Creek, Pope Creek, Eticuera Creek, and Putah Creek - the main drainage of the basin.

Although there’s a lot of water flowing in Lower Putah Creek, nearly 90% of the Putah Creek watershed is above Lake Berryessa, and most  of the rain is flowing into Lake Berryessa NOT OUT OF IT. Nearly all of the flow in Putah Creek near Winters today is from the main creeks below Lake Berryessa.

There are four main creeks below Berryessa. They are Wildhorse Creek (Cold Creek) right next to the Monticello Dam, Pleasant's Creek which empties into Lake Solano, and McCune Creek and Dry Creek below the Diversion Dam just upstream of the railroad bridge at Winters.

For example, the total flow out of Lake Berryessa was 1,625 acre-feet (AF) for January, 2017. During that same period, the lake’s capacity rose by 399,970 AF. The output was only 0.4% of the input. (1 CFS = 1.98 acre-feet per day; 1 AF = 325,851 US gallons per day)

The Solano Irrigation District monitors this and actually reduces flows from the bottom of Lake Berryessa during rain events to conserve as much water as possible in the lake. But the flow needs to be at least 45 CFS in order to properly operate the power house - this has been the average outflow every day for the full month of January, 2017.

The photos below show what a difference 3 months makes!


Watch Lake Berryessa rise in real time at:




Berryessa Valley and the Town of Monticello Historical Photos and Videos from before Lake Berryessa covered it.

Berryessa Valley photo

Thanks to Carol Fitzpatrick for creating the Berryessa Valley Exhibit at the Spanish Flat Village Center described in the first video.



Click Photo For A Real Time Webcam View of Lake Berryessa



Lake Berryessa History 2010

The Bureau of Reclamation has destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of children. Here's an interview I did in 2010, three years after the interview below with Pat Monaghan and just after Pensus had been given the contract for 5 resorts. As we all know Pensus was subsequently kicked out in 2012.    

How Could the Government Have Done Something So Stupid?

Many people ask me about the history of the process that led to the present situation at Lake Berryessa. When I explain what happened most become incredulous and can't believe the government could have done something so stupid. "How could they have gotten away with that?" they exclaim.

Here's a 2007 TV interview with Pat Monaghan, cofounder of Task Force 7 at Lake Berryessa, to give you some historical insight. Those of you who remember Pete Lucero will recognize his description of what we called "The Big Lie" - which turned into the "Epic Fail".

Full lake level history 2015


Winters Express logo

The Winters Express


Lake Level Fifty Year History


pkilkus@gmail.com                       © Peter Kilkus 2016