Lake Level Status: 2/26/17
Lake level has dropped to 442.6 feet, 2.6 feet over the Morning Glory (Glory Hole) Spillway! It will take some large storms to push it back up. Here’s our latest drone video - mesmerizing lake views with mesmerizing music for your morning meditation:
Lake Berryessa News staff and its world-famous News Drone will be up in snow country for the next few days. Sure to be some beautiful snow videos when we return.
Capell Cove Boat Launch is currently closed and will reopen once water levels recede to allow for safe launching.
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, but boat launching is currently available at all concession sites.
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=-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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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/
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:
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".
Lake Level Fifty Year History