Don Pedro Reservoir / by Brenda (Hartshorn) Licitra

Last Hike of the Year

I went to Don Pedro Reservoir last weekend with my Infrared Camera and observed the devastation of our drought in California.  We may have had a lot of rain these past few weeks, however it's apparent that we have a lot of catching up to do.  Don Pedro is currently holding about 792,000 acre ft of water.  This might sounds like a lot, however it is down 558,000 from its historical average of 1,350,000 for this month.  It is currently only holding 39% of its total capacity.

Drought Evidence

You can clearly see from the photos where the normal water line for the lake is by the division of dirt and grass at the top of the ridge.  It is also interesting to see the old trees peaking up from the water from when the valley was flooded back in 1971 to make the reservoir larger.  The new dam provides the new capacity of holding 570,000 acre ft.  This is nearly doubled the original capacity of 289,000 acre ft from the dam built in 1921.

These are California Black Oaks, which grow to be 30-50 ft tall.  Since these are poking out of the water nearly 20 ft in some cases, we can get a pretty good estimate that the lake is no more than 10-30 ft deep in this area.


Treasures Revealed

The drought has also revealed the Eagle Shawmut Mine.  The remains of the structure would make a great backdrop for a fashion photo shoot and I plan to return here once I have acquired the necessary equipment and crew.  Unfortunately, due to the drought many of the boat launching areas have been closed due to the water levels no longer reaching the docks.  I will be unable to return here until the level of the lake rises.  One more reason to pray for rain.