Shasta Lake provides recreation, irrigation and power for a large chunk of California—and if it doesn't start raining a lot very soon it looks like a lot of Californians are going to have to make some rather harsh lifestyle changes.
Getty photographer Justin Sullivan has captured some downright disturbing images showing just how desperate California's "exceptional" drought has become at the state's largest reservoir, about 10 miles or so north of Redding on the Sacramento River.
The 35-mile long Shasta Lake, over 500 feet deep near the dam when full, is now below 30 percent of its capacity—exposing vast expanses of dry lakebed and stranding boat ramps and resorts a long, long way from the water.
To make matters worse, this year's El Nino is turning out to be a bit of a weakling, and now meteorologists say there's only a 50-50 chance at best for any <edit>meaningful</edit> precipitation in the area this winter.
But on the plus side—at least if you're taking a glass-half-full view of a climatological disaster—the lowering lake levels are revealing all sorts of artifacts, including old bridges and railway tunnels as well as villages and burial sites belonging to the Winnemem Wintu tribe which were buried when the lake was built in 1948.
The tribe, which has gotten a bit screwed over by the Federal Government over the past 150 years or so, lost nearly 90 percent of their land to the lake when it filled in the years after World War II.
The Winnemem Wintu have spent the last several years fighting proposals to boost the height of Shasta Dam and increase the size of the lake—which would pretty much finish off what little of the tribe's land is left.
Barring some rain pretty quick it's one battle that the tribe may actually win, at least by default anyway.
Images via Getty