Lake Almanor level below average this summer due to drought; Bucks Lake above normal due to limited releases

Pacific Gas and Electric Company announced that water levels for Lake Almanor are projected to be lower than normal this summer due to below-average precipitation and snowpack this season. Bucks Lake’s water level is expected to be above average due to limited releases.

The company reported the lake level projections at the 2105 Lake Level Committee meeting in Chester, held to review and discuss PG&E’s planned water operations for Lake Almanor and Bucks Lake for the remainder of the year. The committee’s name refers to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Project No. 2105, which is the license number for PG&E’s Upper North Fork Feather River Hydroelectric Project and includes Lake Almanor.

PG&E plans its operations to balance recreation, the environment, electric power generation and other needs. With below-average precipitation and well-below-average snowpack for the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade mountain ranges, Lake Almanor is expected to be about 3 to 4 feet below normal this summer.

Total precipitation for the season to date in the Lake Almanor basin is at 74 percent of average, and the spring runoff is forecast to be 42 percent of average. Runoff is supplemented by underground aquifers prevalent in the southern Cascade’s porous volcanic rock, but after three dry years in a row, these aquifers are partially depleted.

This year, based on current data and historical modeling, PG&E projects Lake Almanor levels will top off around 4,484.3 feet by early June, reach approximately 4,484 feet elevation by July 4, and approximately 4,478 feet by Labor Day.

Bucks Lake is projected to top-off about 3 feet higher than normal. With limited releases over the summer due to Lower Bucks Dam spillway work, and with Grizzly Powerhouse not yet restored to service, the lake level is expected to remain fairly flat over the summer, likely holding around 5,155 to 5,156 feet through July 4, and gradually drawing down by 3-to-4 feet to 5,152 to 5,151 feet elevation by Labor Day.

PG&E expects Butt Valley Reservoir to be within its normal operating range this summer.

PG&E encourages the public to take appropriate safety precautions when recreating in and near water:

  • Obey all warning signs and restrictive buoys while swimming or boating.
  • Use the “buddy system.” Never fish, swim, boat or raft alone.
  • Don’t dive or jump into unfamiliar water. Shallow water or submerged trees or rocks could cause serious injury.
  • Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool – people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
  • Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Do not assume that someone is watching them. Appoint a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults.

For more water safety tips, visit