CHICO – Horseshoe Lake in Upper Bidwell Park is dramatically lower.
Butte County, along with the rest of the North Valley, is experiencing “extraordinary drought” conditions as the driest in the US Drought Monitor’s classifications.
A year earlier, the western portion of Butte County was in extreme drought – one level below exceptional drought – and the eastern portion was in severe drought – two below exceptional droughts.
The Drought Monitor says in exceptional droughts:
- Fields are left fallow; orchards are removed; vegetable yield is low; honey harvest is small
- Fire season is very expensive; The number of fires and the area burned is wide
- Many recreational activities are affected
- fish rescue and relocation start; Pine beetle infestation occurs; Forest mortality is high; wetlands dry up; The survival of native plants and animals is low; Fewer wild flowers bloom; Wildlife death is widespread; algae blooms appear
- policy changes; Agricultural unemployment is high, food aid needed
- Poor air quality affects health; increased greenhouse gas emissions due to reduced hydropower generation; West Nile virus outbreak
- Water scarcity is widespread; surface water is exhausted; Federal irrigation water distribution is extremely short; Junior water rights are curtailed; Water prices are too high; wells are dry, more and more deep wells are drilled; Water quality is bad.
Take a look at these photos from the lake over the years:
In addition, Lake Oroville stood at 629 feet on Tuesday, up almost a foot from the previous week, but still near an all-time low. At just 787,578 acre feet in September, the lake is well below average. Over the past 5 years, Lake Oroville has occupied an average of 1.36 million acre feet in September.