LA GRANGE, Stanislaus County (KPIX 5) – California’s drought has become so bad, a community in the Sierra Foothills may run out of water later this year.
Three hours east of San Francisco, next to Lake Don Pedro, the town of La Grange is the kind of place where it’s easy to feel a thousand miles from anywhere. But even here, it’s impossible to escape the drought.
Perter Kampa of the Lake Don Pedro Community Services District describes where the town’s water originates from. “Comes from Lake McClure, which is directly right out of Yosemite National Park,” Kampa told KPIX 5. “Snow melt and rain runoff, right down into the reservoir.”
But one look at that lake is all that is needed to understand how bad things have become.
“This is incredible, I can tell you,” said longtime fisherman Javier Renteria. “I’ve been coming here for the past 20 years, and this is the worst I’ve ever seen.”
In fact, the water is so low, that one can look right through the old railroad tunnels that used to make for catfish habitat.
But the bigger problem is the water line will soon drop below the pumps themselves, meaning the people here will simply run out of water.
“We’re counting back from about mid to late August of this year,” Kampa said.
Plan A: would be cutting releases to nearby waterways, but that would mean getting relief from the state. “A lot of what ifs, whenever you’re dealing with the state water board,” Kampa said.
Plan B: Digging deeper for groundwater, which costs time and money this community doesn’t have.
“We’re right in between two of the biggest reservoirs in the state of California and we’re going to run out of water? That’s really ironic,” said Kampa.
From here, the problems just run downstream to the parched fields of the valley, where farmers have their demands. Caught in the middle are the fish that depend on healthy rivers and creeks.
It’s a tangled, complicated mess that’s really just the new reality – as the drought bears down even harder.