CAIRO — The number of lakes in California is expected to drop to less than 1,000 this year, according to new projections from the state’s Department of Water Resources.
The drop is based on a new drought map showing the lakes are more susceptible to flooding and drought than previous years.
The state water bureau on Wednesday projected the number of Lake Merced and Lake Tahoe would drop to 4,800 and 1,700, respectively, by 2030.
The state’s total lake area is projected to drop from 1,931 square miles to 1,061 square miles, the bureau said.
The bureau’s new projections are part of a new assessment of the lake’s condition, which was updated to show a projected 1,851 square miles of lake by 2030, down from 1 of 1,990 in a previous assessment.
Lake Merced is projected at 4,600 square miles by 2030 and Lake Tumwater at 1,100 square miles.
The lake is one of the most extensive in the country.
It contains about 1,200 miles of shoreline, and about one-third of the nation’s freshwater supply.
The other half is in the Sacramento River Valley, a tributary of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates the total lake volume at 890 million acre-feet, a third of the water in Lake Tahoes lake bed.
The bureau’s latest drought map shows the lakes shrinking in size as drought-related factors increase.
The drought map, updated in May, showed the lake area was projected to fall from 1.5 million acres in 2020 to 1.2 million acres by 2030 in the California River Valley.
The drought-affected lakes include:Lake Merci is projected for about 3,500 square miles in 2020, a 40-percent drop from the previous assessment, while Lake Taho will be about 2,200 square miles smaller than the previous map.
The department expects Lake TahOE will shrink from 2,400 square miles this year to 2,300 square miles next year.
It estimates Lake Merci and Lake Merce will shrink to 1 million and 1 million acres, respectively.