FOLSOM (CBS13) — As California's wildfire season nears amid another year of drought, Folsom Lake looks much different than it did a year ago when a low water level left an exposed lakebed. Now, splashing, swimming and boats have returned—but will it last?
"We couldn't do anything at all. We couldn't go swimming or anything like that. The water was really, really low," lake visitor Robert Morpanini said of last year's levels.
According to the National Weather Service Sacramento, Folsom Lake's water level has risen to 75% capacity. That's 103% of the historical average for this time of year,
"Folsom is basically full. It has twice as much water right now as it did a year ago this time," explained UC Davis Environmental Engineering Professor Jay Lund.
April snow in the Sierra and valley rain have helped boost water levels, but this has brought good and bad news for the area.
"There is more hydropower. There will be more recreation. There will be a safer water supply, more reliable water supply for this year, at least," explained Lund.
The Regional Water Authority (RWA) explains that the Sacramento region expects to meet customers' water demands this year. The question is whether water levels will stay this high. According to the RWA, due to a smaller snowpack and other regions' reliance on the lake, levels won't be high for long.
"We are having a drought statewide. The water that you see in the Folsom reservoir, it needs to be used for different purposes. It needs to be used for customers, homes, businesses but it also needs to be available for fish and other users beyond this region," said RWA Executive Director James Peifer.
The rising lake level is a small step that experts say is needed to spring forward.
"In this pretty miserable dry year, Folsom is a bright spot," Lund said.
The last time lake levels have risen above 75% in April was back in 2018-2019, according to the National Weather Service. RWA is asking customers to still continue to conserve their water use.
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