By Kelly Ryan
FOLSOM LAKE (CBS13) — A Northern California reservoir ran dry overnight, killing thousands of fish and leaving residents looking for answers.
While a $3.5 million drought safety net at Folsom Lake finishes, a lake in another part of the state is left high and dry.
Thousands of fish lay dead in what used to be Mountain Meadows reservoir also known as Walker Lake, a popular fishing hole just west of Susanville.
“Everywhere that you see that’s wet, there was water,” said resident Eddie Bauer.
Residents say people were fishing on the lake last Saturday, but it drained like a bathtub overnight. Bauer has lived near this lake his entire life. This is the first time he’s ever seen it run dry. He and other residents want answers.
Pacific Gas & Electric Company owns the rights to the water and uses it for hydroelectric power.
It’s the situation we worked hard to avoid but the reality is we’re in a very serious drought, there’s also concerns for the fish downstream,” said spokesman Paul Moreno.
Bauer says there should’ve been at least two weeks of water left and that would’ve given PG&E enough time to relocate the fish.
“This makes me feel like they didn’t want to do a fish rescue and that it was easier to open that sucker up Saturday night,” Bauer said.
PG&E officials say nobody opened the dam up and the water simply ran out.
No matter who’s to blame, residents here worry, this could happen in other areas of the state.
“The reservoirs are all continuing to be far below normal,” said Doug Carlson with the Department of Water Resources.
He says there’s no question water concerns are still a serious issue across the state.
“We are reliant upon rainfall to fill those lakes of course and until we get more rain we’re not likely to see any appreciable increase in the reservoir levels,” he said.
At Folsom Lake, workers are finishing work on floating barges that would pump water to the city of Folsom and the prison if the lake gets too low for the water to flow through an intake valve. An insurance policy that may be put into use soon.