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Officials Say Water Levels “Not Critical”…Yet

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State water officials say levels at New Melones Lake have been dropping — prompting closure of several boat launching ramps on both the Tuolumne and Calaveras county sides of the large reservoir.

According to Bureau of Reclamation spokesman Jeff McCracken, the low water levels don´t occur every summer. He says they have had an extremely dry spring that has caused most of the Bureau reservoirs to be lower than normal.

Water storage in New Melones — located in the Sierra Nevada foothills northeast of Modesto — is at 91 percent of their 15-year average. McCracken says storage is not at a critical stage, but, “it´s nowhere near where we´d want it to be.”

Considering the drought conditions in the West, McCracken says New Melones lake still has a “fairly substantial amount” of water in it. “Hopefully we´ll get through the summer and get a nice wet winter from Mother Nature and start off with an even better year next year,” he adds.

When full, the reservoir holds 2.4 million acre feet of water. The reservoir supplies drinking water for the San Joaquin Valley and generates enough electricity to supply 72,000 households.

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