Stacks Image 7


Obsolescence vs. Renewal - 2023 Version

The New Lake Berryessa News Website

Welcome to the new Lake Berryessa News website - not really a momentous change, but a nice one. Thanks to the generous contributions of more than 100 readers, I will be able to publish the Lake Berryessa News in all it versions (paper, Facebook, website and email news letter) in 2023. Also I mentioned previously that joining me in my personal physical slide into obsolescence was my Lake Berryessa News supercomputer and its website software. They finally gave up the "ghost in the machine".

I try to prevent my own creeping premature irrelevance by maintaining my health and attitude with my writing, recumbent exercise bike, regular hiking, minimizing alcohol consumption (the most difficult - why are there so many drinks that taste so good?).

Thanks to my readers I was also able to buy a new iMac supecomputer - so fast that I've become at least 30% - 50% more efficient. My new web design software took some learning time but works well. Those of you have been through this computer upgrade process before know how frustrating it can be. Thanks for all your support.

In honor of my victory, here are a couple of software upgrade jokes.

Peter Kilkus,

Upgrade from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0
Dear Tech Support,
Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a slowdown in the overall performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications that had operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.
In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, but installed undesirable programs such as NFL 5.0 and NBA 3.0. And now Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and House Cleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. What can I do?
Signed, Desperate
Dear Desperate!
First keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an entertainment package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system. At the command line, try entering C:\ITHOUGHTYOULOVEDME and download Tears 6.2 to install Guilt 3.0. If all works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. But remember, overuse can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy-Silence 2.5, Happy-Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1.
Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will create snoringLoudly.wav files. Whatever you do, DO NOT install Mother-in-Law 1.0 or re-install another Boyfriend program. These are not supported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.
In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have a limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider additional software to improve memory and performance. I personally recommend Hot Food 3.0 and Lingerie 9.9.
Regards, Tech Support
Up from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0
Dear Tech Support:
Last year I upgraded from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0 and noticed that the new program began running unexpected child processing that took up a lot of space and valuable resources.

In addition, Wife 1.0 installs itself into all other programs and launches during system initialization, where it monitors all other system activity. Applications such as PokerNight 10.3, Drunken Boys Night 2.5 and Monday Night football 5.0 no longer run, crashing the system whenever selected.

I cannot seem to keep Wife 1.0 in the background while attempting to run some of my other favorite applications. I am thinking about going back to Girlfriend 7.0, but un-install does not work on this program.

Can you help me please? Thanks, Joe

Dear Joe:

This is a very common problem men complain about but is mostly due to a primary misconception. Many people upgrade from Girlfriend 7.0 to Wife 1.0 with the idea that Wife 1.0 is merely a “UTILITIES & ENTERTAINMENT” program. Wife 1.0 is an OPERATING SYSTEM and designed by its creator to run everything.

It is unlikely you would be able to purge Wife 1.0 and still convert back to Girlfriend 7.0. Hidden operating files within your system would cause Girlfriend 7.0 to emulate Wife 1.0 so nothing is gained.

It is impossible to un-install, delete, or purge the program files from the system once installed. You cannot go back to Girlfriend 7.0 because Wife 1.0 is not designed to do this. Some have tried to install Girlfriend 8.0 or Wife 2.0 but end up with more problems than the original system.

I recommend you keep Wife 1.0 and just deal with the situation. Having Wife 1.0 installed myself, I might also suggest you read the entire section regarding General Partnership Faults (GPFs). You must assume all responsibility for faults and problems that might occur, regardless of their cause. The best course of action will be to enter the command C:\APOLOGIZE. The system will run smoothly as long as you take the blame for all the GPFs.

Wife 1.0 is a great program, but very high maintenance. Consider buying additional software to improve the performance of Wife 1.0. I recommend Flowers 2.1, Jewelry 2.2, and Chocolates 5.0.

Do not, under any circumstances, install Secretary With Short Skirt 3.3. This is not a supported application for Wife 1.0 and is likely to cause irreversible damage to the operating system.

Best of luck, Tech Support


Lake Berryessa Statistics (2/5/23)  

The lake level has slowly reached 412.4 feet, 27.6 feet below Glory Hole - still higher than all of 2022! The last time the lake was this high was on June 2, 2021. That's an 18.4 foot rise since its low of 394.0 feet on December 1, 2022. All the launch ramps are open.

The good news is that the lake is already higher than its highest point in 2010, 2015, 2016, and 2022. Since it drops about 15 feet on average every summer, there will be plenty of water to enjoy in 2023!

Light rain returned this week, but there was no substantial precipitation - rainfall at the dam is now 24.58 inches. With 27.6 feet to go to reach the lip of Glory Hole, we'll need at least 30 inches more rain to flow over the it, which is unlikely based on the latest forecasts. The unofficial total at the Lake Berryessa weather station above the Berryessa Highlands now stands at 18.9 inches.

On this date in 2017 the lake was only 11 days from overflowing Glory Hole. Rainfall continued to be heavy at 7.25 inches in 10 days from 1/31/17 to 2/10/17 with a 10 foot rise in lake level during the same period and the lake finally flowing over Glory Hole on 2/16/17. Total rainfall had reached 34.3 inches by 2/16/17 - 10 inches more than today.

The Gamble gauge is at a lake capacity of 68.8% (1,067,197 acre-feet).

Water temperature is at its lowest point of the winter - 51 degrees at the surface and 50 degrees from 5 feet down to the bottom.

Stacks Image 132
Stacks Image 130


Stacks Image 95
Stacks Image 103
Stacks Image 105

Lake Berryessa News editions since 2005 are available as downloadable searchable PDF files at:


Watch Evan Kilkus' Lake Berryessa News drone videos of the dramatic rise of Lake Berryessa as it finally spilled over Glory Hole on 2/16/17 at:   
or go directly to the Lake Berryessa News You Tube channel.  
10"+ of Rain Takes Its Toll, But Lake Berryessa is Rising 
2/10/17: Lake Berryessa Is Almost Full
2/12/17: Lake Berryessa Splashes Over Glory Hole -With a Little Help
2/12/17: Breathtakingly Beautiful Drone Tour of Lake Berryessa
2/16/23: Lake Berryessa Is Full &Splashing Over the Spillway
2/18/17: Lake Berryessa Is Spilling 1 Foot Over Glory Hole
2/21/17Lake Berryessa is 3.5' OVER the Glory Hole Spillway
2/24/17: Another Breathtaking Drone Tour of a Full Lake Berryessa

Stacks Image 144

Lake Berryessa Revitalization Progam

The good news is that the lake is already higher than its highest point in 2015, 2016, and 2022. Since it drops about 15 feet on average every summer, there will be plenty of water to enjoy in 2023!

All is quiet at the moment regarding the Lake revitalization project. Napa County has nothing new to report. Both Sun Outdoors and Suntex are still in the NEPA/CEQA process. Estimates are that those will take another year for SUN and two years for SUNTEX. What you see is what you get, for now.

The Capell Launch Ramp is open and free for the time being.

´╗┐The work going on at Berryessa Point (previously Berryessa Marina) is a BOR project to remove the old retaining wall that is falling into the lake.

Stacks Image 207
Stacks Image 209


Stacks Image 211
Stacks Image 213


Lake Berryessa Rainfall vs Level - A Short Tutorial (1/29/22)
Peter Kilkus 

On Christmas Day, 2022, Lake Berryessa was down to 394.4 feet - 45.6 feet below Glory Hole. The level had been dropping about an inch per day. The lowest level in 2022 was more than a foot below the lowest level, 395.78’, on 12/9/15 during our last drought.
Some folks use a rule of thumb that the lake increases a foot in level for every inch of rainfall after the ground has been saturated by 2-3 inches of rain and runoff begins This easy to remember rule is not completely accurate since the relationship between the lake level and its storage capacity is not linear. The lake profile is roughly a V-shaped bowl or funnel (with peaks and valleys and inlets and large flat areas), which means that the higher the water level gets the more rain is needed to raise it further. It takes about 25% more rain to go from 430’ to 440’ than it does to go from 390’ to 400’.
Rainfall versus level for the first three months of 1998 showed that the lake rose 16 feet with 26 inches of rain – or 7.4 inches of level per inch of rain. However, the unexpectedly rapid rise of the lake in 2017 provided data that showed that during the largest consecutive rain days the rise was twice as great as the normal average – 14.5” per inch of rain.

The Lake Berryessa watershed encompasses the 576–square mile area primarily fed by Putah Creek which originates from springs on the eastside of Cobb Mountain in Lake County. Putah Creek enters Napa County about 11 miles east of Middletown. It merges with Butts Creek just before it empties into Lake Berryessa. Therefore, rainfall over the Cobb Mountain and Middletown areas provides the bulk of water entering Lake Berryessa. One reason that Lake Berryessa rose so quickly in 2017 was the very heavy rainfall that occurred on Cobb Mountain and Middletown. 
For example, on 1/18/23 official rainfall at Monticello Dam reached 23.2 inches. The unofficial total at the Lake Berryessa weather station above the Berryessa Highlands stood at 17.81 inches. Bur rainfall at Cobb Mountain on 1/17/23 reached 52.01 inches. In 2017 rainfall had reached about 41 inches at the dam when Glory hole overflowed. At that same time rainfall at Cobb Mountain hit an amazing 130 inches!
The Lake Berryessa water level is actually measured on the Monticello Dam in a “stilling well” equipped with a float tape attached to a digital rotary encoder that measures accurately to 0.01 ft. Rainfall is measured using a tipping bucket rain gauge. However, the rain gauge on the top of Monticello Dam has never been very representative of precipitation in the overall Lake Berryessa area. The gauge is working well but the location, surrounded by mountains on two sides with a strong up-draft coming up the canyon and over the dam, prevents getting reliable data. Rainfall measurements at the dam may not be representative of the area, but they are also not the best indicator of how fast the lake may rise.
I’ve been keeping level and rainfall data at Lake Berryessa for 26 years. The table below shows that we’ve had early September rainfalls in 7 of those 26 years. But early rainfall is not an indicator of a high rainfall year. For example, last year we had an early September rain and a reasonable rainfall total by the end of December, but the rest of the year was a bust. The lake only went up about 10 feet. In 2021 the lake never rose at all. It stopped at about 417.5’, stayed there for most of the winter, then started dropping again in April 2021. See Lake Level chart below.

Stacks Image 219
Stacks Image 148


Stacks Image 157


Stacks Image 153
Stacks Image 161
Stacks Image 155
Stacks Image 159

Coming Soon! 1304 Steele Canyon Road $550K

Lots of Lots Available!

Stacks Image 173


The definitive book about what happened at Lake Berryessa!

Policy and Politics Betray the People:
The Lake Berryessa Saga, 1958-2020

Stacks Image 193

The KPIX Eye on the Bay interview below is one I did in 2010 and a relevant introduction to the substance of the book. I did it after Pensus had been given the contract for 5 resorts. As we all know Pensus was subsequently kicked out in 2012.

Stacks Image 189

Policy and Politics Betray the People: Introduction

by Peter Kilkus
The Five Tragedies of the Berryessa Valley

Without THE LAKE BERRYESSA NEWS there would be no Lake Berryessa News…and finally there would be no definitive history of what happened at Lake Berryessa. Having participated directly for more than twenty years as an advocate for the lake in the fiasco that was the Bureau of Reclamation’s Visitor Services Plan, its farcical but tragic outcome, and the process of rebuilding, I have very strong views of the causes and results - supported by facts and data which were mostly obfuscated by the proponents of the destruction of the lake’s residential and business community.

A History of Heartbreak

As I stood with Brian Hackney of KPIX’s Eye on the Bay looking out at the fantastic view of Lake Berryessa from the site of the demolished Steele Park Resort’s Boathouse Restaurant, I was struck by the many levels of history we were witness to. And much of that history, unfortunately, was filled with heartbreak.

The First Tragedy: The Destruction of Native American Culture

Formerly known as Talahalusi (Beautiful Land), the Napa Valley is one of California's longest inhabited areas. Archaeological surveys indicate 10,000 years of uninterrupted habitation. "It was a paradise - a cultivated paradise where one only had to reach out their hand to eat. A place rich in beauty, water, and food," stated the oral history of Native American Elder Jim Big Bear King.
Native Americans lived peacefully in pole houses, using clamshell beads and magnesite cylinders for money and jewelry. They processed obsidian into shafts, spears and arrowheads, which were used for hunting and export. Acorns, perennial grasses, wild berries, freshwater shellfish, salmon, fowl and game were their diet. These hunter-gatherers lived in a rich environment with a capacity for a dense, socially complex population of 35,000-40,000 people. They established large permanent villages with nearby seasonal resource and task-specific camps.
In 1976 an archaeological survey of lands slated for development for recreational purposes (Oak Shores) resulted in the discovery of a number of prehistoric artifacts along the shoreline of Lake Berryessa. Although the study area (Oakshores Park) is contiguous to Lake Berryessa and appears (at the present time) to be a favorable place for human occupance, prior to the construction of Monticello Dam it was a considerable distance from the principal stream draining the area (Putah Creek).
Spain claimed the land that included California in about 1530.  It stayed in Spanish hands until Mexican independence in 1821 when it became part of Mexico—Alta California as it was called by the Mexicans to distinguish it from Baja California.
After the Spanish and Mexican invasion in 1823, the tribes were nearly decimated by forced marches and smallpox. When forced to relocate to various missions for religious indoctrination, many fled to friendlier territory.

The Second Tragedy: The Destruction of Spanish Culture

Alta California stayed in Mexican hands until an infamous incident in 1846.  John C. Fremont led a group of American adventurers and earlier American immigrants in an uprising to try and free Alta California from Mexican hands.  On 14 June 1846 Fremont and company declared California to be an independent state:  the Bear Flag Republic. What so stains the Bear Flag Republic is the killing by some of Fremont’s men, lead by the famous Kit Carson, of three innocent Mexicans—Jose de los Reyes Berryessa and two of his nephews.
This “republic” only lasted until 7 July 1846.  The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American war and ceded northern Mexico to the U.S.  California, then, became a territory of the U.S.  In 1850 California was admitted to the Union as a state and stayed in the Union during the Civil War.
What, though, of the people of Alta California?  Who were they, where did they come from, and how did they change over time?  Particularly what of the people of Berryessa Valley?
The first people known to reside in the valley were American Indians from the Southern Wintun tribe.  Up until about 1800 members of the Southern Wintun tribe lived in a village in Berryessa Valley named Topai.  Their main diet was acorns which normally grew abundantly.  Unfortunately, no members of the Southern Wintun tribe survive. 
The next known inhabitants of the valley were two Mexican brothers, the Berryessas (Berryessa is a corruption of their actual name—Berelleza).  The Berryessa brothers, Sisto and Jose, received the valley as part of a land grant to them in 1843 from the newly independent Mexican government.  When California became a state in 1850 the Berryessas petitioned to have their land grant recognized by the United States government.
However, by the time Lincoln finalized the Berryessa brothers’ right to the land almost none of the land was still in Berryessa hands.  The Berryessas had sold the vast majority of the land in order to cover their plentiful debts, particularly gambling debts.  It seems that Sisto and Jose were overly fond of Three Card Monte and horse racing.  In 1879, the last Berryessa homesteader, Nicholosa Higuera, wife of Sisto Berryessa, died.  Her husband died the year before in 1878.  Both were buried in the valley.  Sisto’s body, unlike that of many of the other homesteaders, was not recovered when the cemetery in Monticello was relocated to Spanish Flat.  Sisto lies beneath the waters of Lake Berryessa even today.

The Third Tragedy: The Destruction of Rural Culture

The town of Monticello was born the next year, 1867, when B.F. Davis built a blacksmith shop.  It became the center of a prosperous agricultural community and was located somewhat in the middle of the valley, along Putah Creek.  The valley itself was flat and fertile and was considered to have some of the best soil in the country.
Monticello was always a fairly small town, usually two to three hundred residents.  The town at different times had a hotel, a school, two gas pumps, a general store, a community hall, and a bar (a roadside spot called “The Hub”).  McKenzie and Sons store (originally McKenzie and Cook) was a center point for much of the activity in the town.  Albert McKenzie, who ran the store for many years, was the grocery clerk, postmaster, community telephone switchboard operator, notary public, crop insurance man as well as the person to go to for free farming and income tax advice.  He was a man who wore many hats.  Monticello became a popular venue for rodeos, baseball games, and “cow roasts” drawing people from miles around. 
The town enjoyed the distinction of being the first community in the state to have a telephone system installed (around 1905).  In 1896 the famous Monticello Bridge over Putah Creek, was built.  It was considered the grandest stone masonry bridge ever built in California, consisting of three 70 foot spans.  Some claim it was the largest stone bridge in the Western United States.  The Bridge is the only thing that remains of Monticello beneath the waters of Lake Berryessa—everything else was either burned to the ground or carted off. 


The Solano County Irrigation District was formed in 1948 to obtain irrigation water from a proposed multiple-purpose Solano Project and included the damming of Berryessa Valley at Devil’s Gate.  Shortly thereafter Bureau of Reclamation included the Solano Project as part of its plan to develop water resources in the Central Valley Basin of California.
In 1953 construction began on Monticello Dam.  The rest of the Solano Project includes a diversion dam on lower Putah Creek (creating Lake Solano) and an open waterway stretching 33 miles named the Putah South Canal. By 1956 all the trees, homes, barns, and other structures were dismantled, burned, or removed from the valley in preparation for its inundation.  Because the land was condemned, compensation for people’s property was minimal. 
The Dam was completed in 1957 and the former valley, now a reservoir, filled within two years leaving no clues that Monticello and Berryessa Valley were once populated.

The Fourth Tragedy: Destruction of Lake Berryessa Family Recreation

The Bureau of Reclamation and their supporters destroyed family recreation at Lake Berryessa for a generation of families, children, and friends. 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.

The Fifth Tragedy: Opportunity, Irony, Tragedy, Recovery - A Lake Berryessa Cycle?

On August 18, 2020 the LNU Lightning Complex fire, the largest in California history burned much of Lake Berryessa and the surrounding region. The Spanish Flat residential community had become an inferno of burning rubble. The fire soon raced around the lower part of the lake sped up Steele Canyon Road and burned down about 100 of the 300 homes in the Berryessa Highlands.
A week after they began the wildfires were extinguished or contained. The region had no electricity due to hundreds of wooden power poles being burned and wires melted. Roads in and out of the region were closed for a week after that to allow Napa County, PG&E, AT&T, and others to clear the roads of downed trees and debris. PG&E crews swarmed the area installing hundreds of new power poles in less than a week. Power was finally restored to the Berryessa Highland residential area on September 2, about two weeks after it was lost in the original lightning storm, but other areas took several more weeks to be restored.
The goal of my new book is to provide the history and the context within which such an incredibly destructive course of action took place. The book is dedicated to documenting this final tragedy - and, hopefully, the promised revitalization.


Stacks Image 199
Stacks Image 197


The Ultimate Political Perversion of the Antiquities Act
by Peter Kilkus

The Twisted Ten-Year Political Path From a Modest Nature Area Partnership to a Local Blue Ridge Berryessa National Conservation Area to a Large Disjointed Berryessa Snow Mountain National Conservation Area to an Incoherent Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument. Is it the “Dumbest National Monument in the United States”? An objective review of the process by which it was created, and the final formal designation suggests the answer is YES.

I personally support the creation of legitimate national monuments, but this is not that. Being part of the ten year political process that led to its creation convinced me that in many situations the Antiquities Act is being abused. The Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument is a perfect case study of this abuse.

Stacks Image 227