Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle
With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today proclaimed a State of Emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions.
“We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Governor Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”
Even with the reduction in flow from Folsom Dam, the lake is disappearing at an alarming rate. As it does so, it is revealing more of what lies beneath.
The latest images from MyFolsom.com members include an old metal survey marker, initial carved in rocks, and remnants of an old cemetery.
With the threat of a drought, even water-rationing looming, the California Catholic Conference of Bishops is calling on people of all faiths to pray for rain.
Coincidentally, MyFolsom’s own Dawn Grove organized a rain ceremony this past Sunday at Folsom Lake.
I’ll let Dawn tell the story:
It was eight in the morning on a cold Sunday in January; the sky was pale blue and depressingly clear. Not a cloud in sight. There were fifteen of us representing various races, genders, economic backgrounds, ranging from age two to sixty-five. Many of us were friends, some had not met each other before, but all of us were affected by and concerned about the drought. We were here to call the rains.
We danced the zigzag pattern of the water. We chanted to call the rain, we chanted to call the Spirit of the West to bring them. We made a solemn pledge to honor our Mother Earth and Father Sky. We tied blue ribbons and pinned them to our clothes to make a bond, a promise, to be aware of the precious gift of water and to conserve and use it responsibly.
After the ceremony we hiked the desolate landscape. It was a solemn reminder at first but then we began to talk and laugh. We spent two hours exploring the ruins, taking pictures and looking at the artifacts that folks had placed on stumps and broken walls for us to find (it is illegal to remove anything from the park). We laughed as we helped each other jump the stream and worked as a unit helping a big wheeled stroller over. We joked with strangers and petted dogs and placed our own found artifacts on stumps.
When it was time to leave, we all somehow found each other even though our hike had scattered us for a couple of miles. Without a word or any preset plan we gathered and walked out together. As we neared our cars, we gathered for a group photo and then hugged each other, bonded. We all grinned and many of the participants exclaimed how beautiful the ceremony was. Two women who were strangers before the ceremony left together to get lunch. As friends, they drove away in a convertible; they were chatting and laughing.
The ceremony was not about superstition but about comforting each other. It was about a community coming together to support each other and to channel their concern into something positive. Rain did not immediately begin to fall on our heads but we received a gift almost as good; friendship and hope.
“I do not think the measure of a civilization is how tall its buildings of concrete are,
But rather how well its people have learned to relate to their environment and fellow man.”
Sun Bear of the Chippewa Tribe
Thanks Dawn, for your beautiful post and spirit.
Mormon Island, Red Bank and Salmon Falls are notable communities which once stood in the area which was to become Folsom Lake. Now, as the lake’s water level continues to drop, more and more remnants of these communities are being revealed.
Hundreds if not thousands of people have been visiting the lake as the news spread, and they are making some amazing discoveries.
Folsom residents and businesses must reduce water use by 20 percent due to a city-wide Water Warning declared today by Folsom City Manager Evert Palmer.
“Folsom Lake, our primary water source, is now at 21 percent capacity, a near record low,” says Palmer. “This low water level, combined with critically dry weather conditions, necessitates immediate action to conserve water and protect our water supply.”
Mandatory water use restrictions for businesses and residences limit landscape watering to two designated days per week; prohibit washing of parking lots, street, driveways or sidewalks; and prohibit use of City water for construction purposes without approval.
“During cold winter months, landscapes need very little water, making this an easy time of year to achieve significant water savings,” says Marcus Yasutake, Environmental & Water Resources Director. “Approximately 60 percent of the water used by a typical Folsom family is directed to landscape. We’re encouraging residents to turn off sprinklers to conserve water. An added benefit will be significant savings on water bills.”
Those who choose to water are restricted to two days per week and asked to avoid excessive watering that runs off onto sidewalks, street and gutters.
Residents with street numbers that end in an even number water on Wednesday andSunday. Those with street addresses that end in an odd number may only irrigate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. No irrigation is permitted on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays.
“Our goal is to gain compliance through voluntary cooperation,” says Yasutake. “We are taking all reasonable measures to assure that our water customers are aware of these restrictions and believe they will do their part to use water wisely.”
City officials are slashing water usage for Landscape and Lighting districts, local parks and City property, and will continue to monitor and correct any overflow problems on public property.
Boat owners who have their boats in Brown’s Ravine have about another week before they need to pull them out. The dry winter had a direct impact on Folsom Lake, as dropping water levels are now threatening boats. August 3 is the deadline before boats are stuck in the mud.
Looking for some last minute summer camp options? How about Junior Lifeguard Camp? California Parks & Rec is holding a lifeguard camp at Beal’s Point at Folsom Lak for kids 9-15. For more information, visit their website at http://www.parks.ca.gov/FolsomLakeJG.
Recent rains have been very good to Folsom Lake… water levels have risen dramatically in the last 2 weeks. Since March 13, water levels in the lake have jumped 29 feet, and the lake is around as high as it was last time at this year. Though recent rains have been helpful, we won’t truly know how much these storms are helping water needs until snowpack is measured.
Folsom anglers and weekend warriors… we now have a Fishing Map for Folsom Lake available. Find out all the spots to go fishing and what to use as bait. It also includes launch locations, picnic areas, and camping too.
Also see: Folsom Lake Trails Map
Peninsula Campground, located at the convergence of the North Fork and South Fork on Folsom Lake, is closing July 18. Staff shortages and a sewer failure over the July 4 weekend caused the closure; With 11 out of 21 employees staffed considered “minimal”, and the park only operating on 8, the popular campground had no choice but to close to visitors. Those with reservations will be given the choice of another campground or a refund.