(CBS SF) — California’s drought conditions, which have been well-documented in photos, are getting another look with the release of drone video.

The Department of Water Resources has released video shot from a drone flying above Lake Shasta, Folsom Lake and Lake Oroville earlier this week.

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The video shows the stark images of dry docks on barren land where waves used to lap at the shore, as well as boaters corralled into a shrunken areas along the lakes.

Raw Video: DWR Drone Video Of Drought Conditions

Four years of drought have left water levels much lower than historic averages for this time of year.

As of July 26th, state officials listed the water level on Lake Shasta at 44% of capacity and 61% of average. Folsom Lake was filled to 31% of capacity and 43% of average. Oroville had reached 34% of capacity, 45% of average.

In the same press release, state water officials projected Shasta Lake levels for the year remaining above the all-time record low recorded in 1977. However, the levels recorded on Lake Oroville are projected to drop near the lows seen nearly 40 years ago as state officials release a disproportionate amount from that reservoir.

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“Releases (From Shasta Lake) are being held lower than normal to keep cold water in the reservoir for Winter Run Chinook Salmon later in the fall,” the coalition of state water officials reported in the July 28th drought update. “Releases (from Lake Oroville) are higher than normal to help make up for reduced flows out of Shasta. These higher flows are to keep salt water from coming too far into the Delta and to meet other join Federal-State obligations.”

Eidtor’s Note: An earlier version of this article included a Getty Images caption which reported the Shasta Lake level at 20 percent of capacity as of May 25th. CBS San Francisco has been unable to independently verify that recording and has since removed that reference.

State water officials warned that, by the end of September, Folsom could actually dip below the 150,000 acre-foot record low set in 1976-77.

To date, 25 California counties and 12 individual cities have issued Emergency proclamations related to the state’ ongoing drought.

The DWR says hopes to refill these reservoirs may hinge on a strong El Nino that could funnel wet tropical air into Northern California.

Climatologists are virtually assuring a strong El Nino this winter, but it’s not guaranteed that the state will experience the kind of torrential rains that would put a major dent in the drought.


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Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.