The Drought From Above


It’s no secret that California has been in a major drought. In fact, according to the Association of California Water Agencies, the 2014 water year (Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014) was one of the driest in decades and followed two consecutive dry years throughout the state. Taken together, the 2012, 2013 and 2014 water years are now the driest three-year period in California recorded history.

There are many effects the drought has had on California and its residents. Almond farms have gone dry and other farmers have had to cut back immensely in the use of their water, or risk facing fines from the government. Many campaigns have been waged in an effort to save water in California, such as “Brown is the new Green”, a campaign that encourages us to let our lawns turn brown instead of watering them.

Recently Brooks photo student Kamilo Bustamante was able to capture some impactful images of the drought, and specifically, its effect on Folsom Lake in Northern California.

Bustamante, accompanied by his pilot and close friend Marc Hermann, took off on Friday, September 2nd, and flew over a Folsom Lake that showed very visible signs of water loss. The lake is the source of the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of Sacramento residents.

Shane Hunt, the spokesman for the Association of California Water Agencies says, “The situation has been so rough, we are doing everything we can to make sure we maintain water supplies to homes.”

Folsom Lake was at 17% of capacity in October of this year, with water levels expected to fall to levels not seen since 1992, and continue dropping to levels not seen since the great 1977 drought, according to The Sacramento Bee. The reason Folsom Lake has been affected so much isn’t just because the drought has dried up much of the lake, it’s because California has been forced to draw water from here and Oroville (another reservoir) at an unsustainable rate.

These images may have good composition and be visually appealing, but more importantly they show us the harsh reality of the drought. These images should serve as a reminder to conserve water and think about the future of California, whether you stop watering the lawn or just pledge to only wash full loads of laundry. Any little bit helps.

There are many ways to save water, from picking up ice cubes you drop and putting them on potted plants, to turning the water off while lathering hands or even while washing your hair during a shower.

To find out about these and other simple ways everyone can help save water during these dry times, visit