California is in the middle of its fifth year in drought. Experts say it has been the worst drought the state has seen in 1,200 years.
Dwindling reservoirs, shrinking lakes, and dried-up farm fields dot the state's landscape — and despite some recent signs of recovery, the overall outlook is still ominously dry.
But California is far from the only state that's being affected. Across the country's western and southeastern states, reservoirs remain below their capacity and, more importantly, below their historical average. According to the most recent analysis by the Southeast Regional Climate Center, nearly 40% of the American Southeast is currently plagued by moderate to exceptional drought.
Lake Wylie, a human-made lake that straddles North and South Carolina, provides hydro-electric power to the states via Duke Energy. The reservoir's levels have been declining rapidly since early October, forcing the closure of several boat ramps that provide access to the lake for recreation.
"Just the last two weeks alone, we're probably down 50% to 60%," Adam Fillmore with Hunt, Fish, Paddle in Lake Wylie, told local news station WBTV in November.
Weiss Lake, which is situated on the borders of Alabama and Georgia, is owned and operated by the Alabama Power Company. When it is at capacity, the reservoir measures 564 feet above sea level, but it is currently at 557 feet, 7 feet below capacity.
"Trying to fish with the water level down low, it's very challenging sometimes for them to navigate and get to where they need to, to safely to fish," Carolyn Landrem, president of the Weiss Lake Improvement Association, told Northwest Georgia News in February.
Lake Purdy supplies drinking water to roughly 600,000 residents in the Birmingham area of Alabama, but its supplies are dwindling. According to local news station WVTM 13, the lake's October levels were the lowest the reservoir has seen in three decades.
Lake Juliette, also known as Rum Creek, is a 3,600-acre reservoir in Georgia that is managed by Georgia Power and the state's Department of Natural Resources. Water levels at Lake Juliette and nearby Lake Jackson are below normal.
Cedar Creek Reservoir, located 60 miles southeast of Dallas, Texas, is an artificial lake built in 1961 that supplies water to Fort Worth and several other nearby cities. The latest data from the US Drought Monitor indicates that parts of Texas, primarily in the east, north, and south, are currently in a state of drought that ranges from abnormally dry to extreme.
Alabama's Lake Catoma is the main source of water for residents of Cullman County, but its levels have dipped dramatically in recent months. In October of this year, its levels dropped to 15 feet below full pool, triggering the local utilities board to begin phase two of its drought management plan and call for mandatory water conservation in the area.
Drought conditions around Georgia have pushed water levels at Jackson Lake below normal levels in recent months. According to Georgia Power, which manages the lakes, the reservoir's levels are not expected to return to normal "until measurable rainfall is experienced in Lake Jackson's watershed."
"I am very concerned that we are going into a multi-year drought," Glenn Page, the general manager for the agency that manages Lake Lanier's water levels, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution last week. "But from a resource perspective, I am most concerned about Lake Lanier."
That's because Georgia's Lake Lanier, along with Allatoona Lake, is one of the county's main sources of water.
West Point Lake is a human-made reservoir that provides flood control and hydroelectric power to surrounding areas in Georgia. Its levels have dipped in recent months, along with many other lakes and reservoirs in the state.
Smith Lake, which is according to local news site WBRC Fox 6 News the deepest lake in Alabama and one of the deepest in the Southeastern US, has been significantly affected by the region's drought. In mid-November, the lake measured about 14 feet below full pool, WBRC reported.