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Worsening California drought leads to boat-ramp closures

Boaters launch their boats hundreds of yards away from designated boat ramps at Folsom Lake in Folsom, Calif.

Boaters launch their boats hundreds of yards away from designated boat ramps at Folsom Lake in Folsom, Calif.

As California closes out its eighth month of a drought state of emergency, effects of the water shortage are being felt across the state.

About 63 trillion gallons of water have been lost to drought in the western United States, enough to blanket the region with 4 inches of water, according to a study published Thursday and covered by the Associated Press.

Hundreds of residents in rural San Joaquin Valley have become the first Californians to run out of tap water as dwindling flows from the Tule River have caused their wells to dry up, according to The Weather Channel.

The Marines’Camp Pendleton has increased its recycled water production by 50 percent, and more than 4,000 wildfires have burned more than 80,000 acres since Jan. 1. Even the mountains are moving. Without water to weigh them down, some parts of California’s mountains have moved upward more than half an inch.

Words about the drought aren’t as powerful as images of the state’s lakes and reservoirs, once filled with blue and surrounded by healthy green, now morphing into reddish brown dirt. Many of them have dropped to water levels below 50 percent, with some nearly dried up. The San Joaquin Valley’s Pine Flat reservoir is filled only 12 percent.

The San Francisco Gate reported on Sunday that the worsening drought in California was starting to limit outdoor recreational activities, saying “the drought is taking a bigger bite than ever out of the outdoors this month.”

Yosemite Falls is dry. At peak season, the campgrounds were closed at Memorial County Park and nearby Portola Redwoods State Park near LaHonda. The last paved launch ramp to put boats in at Lake Oroville, at Bidwell Canyon, was closed as the lake dropped to near 70 percentempty. Officials extended two ramps with gravel so the public could continue accessing Lake Oroville, Chicoer News reported on Wednesday.

Stevens Creek and Lexington reservoirs were closed to boating, Coyote will be closed to boating Oct. 15 and eight other lakes are closed to boatingindefinitely.

It's only mid-August, the rainy season is three months off, and giant Shasta Lake is 32 percent full, New Melones is 24 percent and San Luis is at20 percent.

Boat ramps were closing at Lake Shasta, according to KRCR News, a local ABC affiliate. The ranger station decided to close the Sugarloaf boat ramp in Lakehead for safety precautions.

When water is lost because of a lack of rain and snow, the earth's crust rises. The sensors show that the earth's crust has risen by an average of 4 millimeters in the western United States since last year and as much as 15 millimeters in the California mountains, according to the AP report.

Last year, an area stretching west of the Rocky Mountains witnessed a "massive uplift," said Adrian Borsa, co-author of the freshly published study, which was done by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. The rise was most striking in the Sierra Nevada and California coastal regions, but it was spread over the entire region, unlike previous years when some pockets have gone up and others went down.

The loss of water since last year is equivalent to the annual loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet, according to the study published in the journal Science.


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