Time has a way of compressing as we get older. It seems like only yesterday that our water resources in our lakes and rivers were in great shape. Today, not so much.
At the dawn of the new millennium, Lake Tahoe was at full capacity, the reservoirs on the Truckee, likewise. The Truckee River was flowing at over 1000 CFS during May and June. We just didn’t know then that we were at the cusp of a 14 year-long dry spell . It has taken its toll on Lake Tahoe storage (just 17″ above its rim as of this writing, and almost certain to go below this summer or fall). Pyramid Lake has fallen many feet in elevation, but what is dramatic is the amount of shore exposed by the receding water in this long-term drought. As we’ve explained in other posts, we westerners have relied on a repeat of the precipitation patterns for this century as we have for the preceding century and a half. So far, it’s not working out for us.
Compare these two photos (taken from locations at the south shore of Pyramid Lake in Aug 2004 and this April 2014. The latter photo is taken from a position which shows the amount of recession Pyramid is undergoing with so much demand on the remaining flows of the Truckee River. During the last 3 years only a fraction of the total river flow actually reached Pyramid Lake. (The first photo takes in a larger view of the Lake, but Anaho Island and the Pyramid are visible in both images.)