in ,

For The First Time in 25 Years California Lake May Spill Over

Source: Glamping Hub

California’s Lake Casitas is about to overflow for the first time in over a quarter of a century after a super rainy winter.

Located around 90 miles up the coast from Los Angeles in the Ojai Valley, the lake was at 96.2 percent full as of Wednesday, April 3, according to info from the Casitas Municipal Water District.

Lake Casitas 3.37 Feet Away From Spilling Over

The data also adds that the lake is just -3.37 feet away from spilling over. When it’s full, the lake can hold up to 238,000 acre-feet of water. Right now, it’s holding 228,863.

Source: X/dronespeare

The Lake Casitas Dam was built in 1958 and now forms the reservoir. In 1978, it hit full capacity and spilled over. But since 1998, it hasn’t spilled over at all.

California’s Lake Casitas: A Story Of Drought, Deluge, And Recovery

In the last few years, the lake has been super low because of California’s long-lasting drought. With years of less-than-normal rainfall, all the state’s reservoirs, including Casitas, were struggling.

Source: X/eleonoradragott

This was really concerning for the state’s water supply, which depends a lot on storing water in these reservoirs. They get their water from melted snow in the nearby mountains.

Turning The Tide: California’s Water Reservoirs Rebound In 2023

But last year, things changed dramatically with the extremely wet winter that the state experienced. A ton of rain and snow from a series of strong winter storms led to record amounts of snowpack in the region.

Source: X/LeadResister

When that snow melted in the spring of 2023, it gave a big boost to the water levels in all of the state’s reservoirs.

Another Great Year: California’s Water Supply Soars In 2024

Many of the state’s reservoirs even filled up completely. This year is shaping up to be another winner for California’s water supply.

Source: X/LeadResister

In April, the snowpack levels hit 110 percent of normal, marking a big comeback. Since January, California has been hit hard with winter storms.

California’s Weather Rollercoaster: Atmospheric Rivers And Snowy Surprises

A series of atmospheric rivers hit California from late February to early March, along with an unusual blizzard that brought even more snow to the Sierra Nevada.

Source: X/nhanson_reports

Atmospheric rivers are like superhighways of tropical moisture in the sky. They carry this moisture from the tropics toward the North and South Poles, and when they reach land, they bring heavy rainfall.

Lake Casitas Nears Capacity, Bringing Relief And Joy

That’s why the lake is getting closer to overflowing. The lake is the main source of drinking water for people living in the Ojai Valley and other areas of Ventura County.

Source: X/Darrin_Peschka

Mary Bergen, a board member of Casitas, told local news outlet, the Ventura County Star that ‘it is wonderful’ to see the lake full again with a “good water supply.”

From Water Worries To Wet Weather: A Changing Climate’s Impact

Not too long ago, strict rules were set in place that compelled local residents to minimize their water use to prevent a potential water drought. This year has been totally different with an El Niño weather pattern sweeping across the globe.

Source: X/Lala_Leyva

This means the West Coast should get more rain. But last year was a complete oddity. Some experts are of the opinion that climate change is responsible for the changes in our weather patterns.

What Is The El Niño Weather Pattern?

El Niño is a weather pattern marked by warmer-than-usual sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean near the equator.

Source: X/Reuters

It occurs every few years and affects global weather, causing shifts in precipitation and temperature in different regions. El Niño is part of a larger climate cycle called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

District Manager Gives Spillway Alert

Water might reach the spillway in the next seven to 10 days, according to Mike Flood, the manager of the Casitas Municipal Water District. If there isn’t a big storm, the amount of water overflowing will probably be low.

Source: X/​​SaphirYoshi

The district will stop taking water from the Robles facility once water hits the spillway, Flood added. About 30 to 40% of the lake’s water comes from this facility. Coyote Creek and Santa Ana Creek also contribute water.

Managing Spillover: The Role Of Lake Casitas’ Spillway

The spillway, which is designed to prevent the dam from overflowing, sends extra water into Coyote Creek. After last year’s storms, mud and debris piled up along part of the creek near Camp Chaffee Road.

Source: X/plasticAudio

This caused flooding in the Foster Park neighborhood and left less space for more water. The plan is to clear away the mud later this year.

Spilling During High Levels Of Rainfall Could Be A Concern

Patrick Maynard, from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services, said they’ll keep an eye on things. “Spilling during high-intensity rainfall may be a concern, but low volumes likely won’t cause issues,” he said.

Source: X/abros805

Federal officials gave the thumbs up for Lake Casitas in 1956, and the dam was finished a few years later. But it took over a decade for the lake to fill up, slowly covering old ranches, roads, and even a school. The spillway sprung into action eight times between 1978 and 1998.

Challenges And Celebrations: Lake Casitas Through The Years

Once the Casitas Dam was done, the lake sat almost empty for four long years. By 1961, water levels were just a foot and a half above the lowest intake gate, making it impossible to supply customers. Plans were made to bring in barges with big pumps to get the water flowing.

Source: X/Quiique_89

Then, in February 1962, a whopping 20 inches of rain fell in just five days, filling Lake Casitas with 53,000 acre-feet of water. 

1969’s Hundred-Year Storms

In 1969, the region faced a deluge of water as two “one-hundred-year storms” hit the county. Rainfall soared to 70 inches, causing extensive damage amounting to $1.5 million. The Robles Diversion Canal, numerous pipelines, and the Casitas recreation area bore the brunt of the destruction. This havoc prevented Lake Casitas from reaching its capacity.

Source: Wikimedia/David P Howard

It wasn’t until March 31, 1978, that water finally cascaded over the Casitas Dam spillway. Lake Casitas later played host to the 1984 Olympic rowing and canoeing events. During July and August of that year, families with their straw hats flocked to the lake to witness history in the making.

What do you think?

200 Points
Upvote Downvote
Mary Scrantin

Written by Mary Scrantin

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Chinese Rocket Explodes Upon Reentry Into Atmosphere Over California

Why It’s Illegal To Collect Rainwater In Some States, Explained