California’s Walker Lake suddenly and unexpectedly dried up Friday, killing thousands of fish as the state struggles through a fourth year of record drought.
One Folsom Lake resident who has lived his entire life in the area says he has never seen the lake, also known as the Mountain Meadows reservoir, go completely dry.
“Everywhere that you see that’s wet, there was water,” Eddie Bauer told local CBS affiliate CBS13.
Bauer and other residents were quick to point fingers at the Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), which reportedly owns the rights to the lake’s water and uses it for hydroelectric power. Bauer pointedly accused the company of refusing to take action to save the fish, whose lifeless bodies were reportedly strewn across the dry lakebed by Friday morning.
“This makes me feel like they didn’t want to do a fish rescue and that it was easier to open that sucker up,” Bauer told CBS, adding that there appeared to be at least two weeks’ worth of water left before it abruptly vanished.
PG&E, for its part, put the lake’s drying down to the drought.
“It’s the situation we worked hard to avoid but the reality is we’re in a very serious drought; there’s also concerns for the fish downstream,” PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno told CBS.
Low water levels have plagued California’s most critical reservoirs since the beginning of the drought. A recent aerial video shows the extent of the damage to the state’s three largest reservoirs: Lake Oroville, Lake Shasta and Folsom Lake.
The Department of Water Resources’ Doug Carlson told CBS that at this point, only Mother Nature could intervene to save water levels at the state’s reservoirs.
“We are reliant upon rainfall to fill those lakes of course, and until we get more rain we’re not likely to see any appreciable increase in the reservoir levels,” Carlson said.