LOS BANOS (KPIX) — What a difference a year — and one extraordinarily wet winter — can make.
A few short years ago San Luis Reservoir, the fifth-largest in California, was a symbol of the state’s seemingly-unending drought. The reservoir, which holds two million acre-feet when full, dipped to a mere 10 percent of that capacity.
Video from KPIX SkyDrone 5 shows a remarkable transformation since this winter’s heavy rains started.
In a stunning turnaround that highlights the state’s recovery from the drought, the reservoir is completely full for the first time in six years. Its water level has risen 192 feet — nearly twice the height of Oakland’s Oracle Arena — in only seven months.
Local residents are enthusiastic about the change.
“This year, it’s about as full as it could be, which is a great sight for anybody,” said Los Banos resident Louie Eagan.
The water levels are a far cry from where the reservoir stood only months ago.
“It was a mud puddle. It was pretty empty. It was the lowest I’d seen it in years,” said Los Banos resident Danny Perez. “It’s pretty amazing to see how full it is now. I know our aquifers are still a little low, but all our reservoirs are spilling over.”
The reservoir holds enough water for 10 million people for a full year. But even with the amazing turnaround, after years of drought, people remain cautiously optimistic.
“This could all change in a year depending on how much gets consumed for agriculture or humans or even how much flows into the bay and the ocean,” said Eagan.