Water levels at New Melones Reservoir are dropping, but so far, nothing to be concerned with.
Bureau of Reclamation Park Ranger Norm Winchester says it´s the lowest he seen the water in four years, and levels are expected to drop even more.
“We´re pretty low,” Winchester says. “At this point we´re dropping about a foot a week. So I would guesstimate, we´ll probably lose another 30 to 40-feet before the end of the season.”
The park ranger says the level of New Melones is about six-feet lower than it was at the end of last season in the middle of November when water levels started to go back up.
Even at this rate, Winchester says the reservoir is at 55 to 60 percent capacity. “It´s not like we don´t have any water,” he says.
Recreational boating should not be affected by lowering water levels at the 23.6-mile lake. Currently the secondary set of boat ramps are above water and being used. As the water level continues to drop, the third set of ramps, submerged for many years, could surface, Winchester says.
New Melones is a working reservoir, Winchester says, providing water for various down stream sources.
Private Lake Tulloch is kept full through a contract with the Bureau of Reclamation. New Melones also feeds Knights Ferry so there´s plenty of water for the salmon run. And water is used to generate hydroelectric power as well as meeting agricultural irrigation water needs in the entire San Joaquin Valley.
High demand on the water stored in the reservoir usually tapers off by late October, early November. How much rain and what the snow pack is during the winter will determine how much water is in the reservoir at the start of the next season.