Water on the Rise
All hail El Niño for delivering a bountiful winter of wet goodness to the water-starved western half of America. The past five years have been epically (and tragically) lacking in precipitation, especially in California. While this is great for longer summers and more time on the water, it it’s not great when your local riding spot actually runs out of water. The drought has wreaked havoc in a variety of ways, but for us people of the wake, it’s been especially rough. There is good news though, thanks to the Spanish boy weather system of winter 2015-16.
Several of California’s largest lakes are higher than they’ve been in years and many will continue to rise thanks to some late storms and a solid snowpack. Shasta, the state’s biggest reservoir (and one of the most iconic for wakeboarders around the world) is currently above its historic average for this time of year, which is awesome. Along with the bigger Shasta, Lake Oroville and Folsom Lake have also had to release water because of an over abundance. Boaters of all shapes and sizes were already enjoying the filling of Folsom this weekend as the lake had been restricted to a No Wake zone for months due to low water levels.
Many marinas throughout the bigger lakes, especially Shasta and Oroville, will hopefully see business pick up this summer. Several are offering peak season discounts for booking online. For example, Silverthorn Resort on Shasta is offering a 20% discount for a peak season seven-night vacation when booked online. As a veteran California houseboater, I’d encourage any of you considering a vacation to do so. Get a couple families together, tie your boats to the houseboat, and head off to find your own private cove for a week of shredding and fun in the sun. Sure there are lots of more glamorous, exotic, and social-media-worthy places a family can vacation, but an experience like a week on a houseboat can’t be replaced – it’s priceless.
As California’s reservoir water levels continue to rise this spring, officials are warning that the drought isn’t over. The U.S. Drought Monitor still shows much of California in either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought conditions. Lake Don Pedro, a popular spot for boaters, houseboating, and camping in central California is currently only at 60% capacity, and reservoirs in southern California overall aren’t faring quite as well as those in the north. That means much of the state will still be under water rationing restrictions, and even if your county/region has them lifted, you should still practice conservation.
More than anything though, enjoy a summer that is likely to be better than any in recent memory. Get a houseboat for a week and ride until your arms can’t take it anymore, or just hook the boat up and get out on the lake for a day. More water means more riding spots for everybody, and that is never a bad thing. Just keep up the rain dancing and water conservation tactics, because the region is going to need above average precipitation for the next few years in order to make up for the four years of record low levels of water.