Lake Cachuma

(About weather/climate, rather than language.)

Caught on local public radio a little while back, a story about Lake Cachuma (in Santa Barbara County), saying that the water level in the lake had dropped by 60 feet in a fairly short period of time, to only 20% of capacity. We’re in a serious drought, and it’s being accentuated by warming (which increases evaporation from the lake).

Background: about the lake. From Wikipedia:

Cachuma Lake is an artificial lake located in the Santa Ynez Valley of central Santa Barbara County, California on the Santa Ynez River adjoining the north side of California State Route 154. The reservoir was created by the construction of Bradbury Dam, a 201 ft (61 m) earth-fill structure built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 1953. Its surface area covers 3,100 acres (1,300 ha), with a maximum design capacity of 205,000 acre·ft (253,000,000 m3), but it is currently limited to 188,000 acre·ft (232,000,000 m3) due to sediment accumulation.

… Body contact activities such as swimming, wading, or water skiing in Lake Cachuma have been restricted since the park opened in the 1950s, reasoning that the lake was a reservoir people depend upon for drinking water.

… Solvang, California is approximately 10.5 mi (16.9 km) to the west of Lake Cachuma. The town of Santa Ynez, California is approximately 7.25 mi (11.67 km) to the west of Bradbury Dam.

Background: my dad. My parents moved from Pennsylvania to California in 1960. My dad ended up as a public health officer, eventually in Santa Barbara County, working from an office in Santa Ynez (and living in Solvang). At the time, he said the main part of his job was looking after Lake Cachuma. He totally loved the work; it was, he said, the best job he ever had in his life, and he couldn’t imagine having a better one.

The lake in good times:


Then the story of the great drying-up, from a website on dying lakes of the world:

Amid the historic drought in California, concerns in Santa Barbara County mount, as the county’s main water source, the Cachuma Lake, is rapidly shrinking.

… As a part of the state’s attempt to aid drought-stricken areas, water is being brought down from parts of Northern California and ground water reserves are getting tapped. However, these measures can only last so long, rain is still crucial.

The lake on the way to its current state:


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