Lake LevelsThis subject is of great interest to our members. To get some perspective how things change from season to season, often due to reasons beyond our control, such as weather, precipitation, PG&E priorities, politics, etc., read the historical articles written at the time, when they were the latest we knew at the time.
By law and regulation, unless a variance is granted by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Lake must be drafted to 60% of capacity on September 15th of each year, and 50% by November 1st. It must be kept at or below 50% until January 1st. It then can be allowed to come up, but must be kept at least 10 vertical feet down until April 1st. This latter control is accomplished by removal of the "spillway boards", which by law, may not be replaced before April 1st.
The BLHA was instrumental in obtaining an agreement and guidelines that are used by both PG&E and the Bureau to apply for and grant variances to these drawdown regulations. The BLHA also negotiated an agreement with PG&E to schedule their annual maintenance outage (when it is impossible to generate power) at the most opportune time each year, so as to maximize Lake Levels during the recreation season.
The length of any variance depends on precipitation, the needs of farmers, and the amount of water in Millerton Lake and other local lakes, all which interact with each other. In average or wet years, these agreements almost guarantee a full or near full Bass Lake between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In dry years, they maximize the chances of a usable lake for all, even though some docks may be out of water before Labor Day.