Swipe Left for Five of the Bay Area's Withering Reservoirs

California’s half-full reservoirs have caught the attention of a European mapmaker.

“Mainly because if California, which is such an advanced state and is the world’s sixth economy, goes through such difficulties to manage its water, this should be a very serious cause for concern worldwide,” said Catalin Trif, founder of Lakepedia, an online encyclopedia of lakes.

The lake enthusiast is based in Romania, but became fascinated by California’s drought. He created before-and-after animations using satellite imagery from 2001 to 2016.

“The Bay Area actually seems to be in better shape than the rest of California,” Trif said.

Here are the Bay Area reservoirs he found most dramatic:


In September 2001, Calaveras reservoir was at 48.7 percent of its total capacity. In September 2016, it was at 34.5 percent, according to Trif.


In September 2001, Anderson reservoir was at 58.2 percent of its total capacity. In September 2016, it was at 46.1 percent capacity.


In September 2001, Coyote reservoir was at 42.5 percent of its total capcity. In September 2016, it was at 25.4 percent capacity.

Uvas and Chesbro

Uvas and Chesbro reservoirs require a continuous release of water in the summer and winter, so the visual does not reveal a dramatic change, according to Trif.

Lake Berryessa

Lake Berryessa has not reached full capacity since April 2006, according to Trif.

Central California reservoirs are doing much worse, says Trif. 

On a brighter note, there is at least one Bay Area reservoir that has bounced back. Lower Crystal Springs in San Mateo County was at 42.3 percent of its total capacity in September 2001 and jumped to 100.4 percent in September 2016. Since April 2012, Lower Crystal Springs has not gone below its historical average, according to Trif.

Contact Us