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California's Second-Largest Reservoir Filled to Capacity

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Water flowing at high speeds out of a lake.
Water pours out of Lake Oroville in Northern California in March 2023. Reservoir levels plummeted over the last three years but now have more water than they can hold. (Ken James/California Department of Water Resources)

Lake Oroville, California’s second-largest reservoir, is at full capacity for the second consecutive year, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

The lake, located on the Sierra Nevada’s western slope, provides water to several Bay Area cities. Lake Oroville’s storage is 99% of its capacity, a yearslong reversal from the severe drought that left the lake at its lowest level in 2021.

“This is great news for ensuring adequate water supply for millions of Californians & environmental needs,” the department wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

In September 2021, Lake Oroville’s level fell to 787,578 acre-feet, the lowest since the reservoir first filled in the late 1960s. The increased levels at Lake Oroville and positive snowpack levels across the state allowed the department to increase its water supply allocation to 40%, a 10% increase from April.


“This year highlights the challenges of moving water in wet periods with the current pumping infrastructure in the south Delta. We had both record low pumping for a wet year and high fish salvage at the pumps,” Karla Nemeth, the department’s director, said in a statement.

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