You’ve probably heard that California is going through one of the worst droughts in its history – bad enough that Governor Jerry Brown passed an executive order to reduce water usage by 25 percent on April 1. And with a hot summer ahead, California’s reservoirs are running low. To give a glimpse of how troubling the situation is, NBC News flew a drone over Lake Oroville to capture some images of the lower-than-normal water level.
Lake Oroville, located 50 miles north of Sacramento, is California’s second-largest reservoir. Although it can hold 3.5 million acre-feet of water, it’s 147 feet below the tree line where water normally sits. The lake supplies the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles with water, and provides irrigation to the many farms in the Central Valley. Lake Oroville’s water is also used to fight wildfires that the state inevitably encounters every summer.
According to NBC News, scientists say 11 trillion gallons of water is needed to reverse the drought. With another hot, dry summer on the way and other reservoirs running low, it’s hard to see things getting better. But there’s hope: Weather forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told Time Magazine that there might be an El Nino event on the way, which could help alleviate the drought conditions.
“We’ve seen continued evolution toward a stronger event,” NOAA official Mike Halpert tells Time. “Last month we were calling it weak, now we’re calling it borderline weak to moderate.” However, Halpert adds that one year of above-average precipitation isn’t enough to bring levels back to normal.